Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Takers (2010)

It's kind of weird to me that I'm reviewing a heist movie in a blog largely dedicated to horror and low budget dreck, but here I am. I also meant to review this movie in September of last year, but hey, time just slips on by, and I try not to review too many movies while they are in theaters, even after I have seen them. So with all of that in mind, lets get to the review.

In the universe of "Takers", the life of a bank robber is apparently a glamorous one, especially for Gordon Cozier (Idris Elba), John Rahway (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen) and brothers Jake (Michael Ealy) and Jessie Attica (Chris Brown.) Well, a former member of their team Ghost (Tip "T.I." Harris) comes into the picture, and wants them to strike an armored car carrying $20 million. Thing is, Ghost isn't exactly the most trustworthy man, as he seems to be none to pleased that Jake is dating his ex-girlfriend Lilly (Zoe Saldana), and that he was pretty much ignored by the team whilst he was in jail. To make matters worse, officer Jake Welles (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) are obsessed with stopping this heist, and will stop at nothing to apprehend them.

Among it's flaws, the biggest thing holding back "Takers" is the script. While the whole thing is essentially one gigantic, walking cliche, there are too many sub-plots and poor attempts at characterization to make you care too much about it. The audience is given things like Gordon's crackhead sister Naomi (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Jake's relationship with his daughter Sunday (Isa Briones) and the triangle with Lilly, Ghost and Jake, but they are all too underwritten to the point of feeling secondary and ill-conceived. It also doesn't help that the whole thing feels familiar to a fault. It's essentially a poor man's version of "Heat", with a little bit of "True Romance" and a whole lot of modern day editing techniques on display.

It also doesn't help that so few of the performances are any good. While Elba, Ealy and Baptiste do fine work, Dillon just seems bored, like he'd rather be in something else (plus, he already did a heist movie before this.) Walker and Christensen try their best with the material-with the latter clearly being the only actor who seems to realize how ridiculous the whole thing is-but the script really doesn't offer them much. Then there's T.I. and Chris Brown, who are just terrible. Brown overacts like you wouldn't believe, while T.I.'s performance barely even registers, and is filled with poor line reading that ended up generating more chuckles than anything else. Finally, I can't really say anything about Saldana, because she's barely even in the movie.

To be fair, not everything in the movie is a bust. The score by Paul Haslinger (a former member of Tangerine Dream) is a lot of fun, especially in the scenes where it does it's best Ennio Morricone impersonation, and a few tunes in the soundtrack aren't bad. Plus, there are a few fun action scenes, though one in particular stands out, and it's a parkour inspired chase scene involving Chris Brown that is, to put it bluntly, pretty awesome. It's the highlight of the movie, and actually kept me on the edge of my seat. Sadly, that's not enough to save the movie.

In the end, "Takers" clearly wants to be a tough, cool heist movie, but it's just so erratically acted, directed and edited to engage, and mostly too poorly written to warrant recommendation. A shame really, as there's a good movie in here somewhere. Too bad that doesn't happen in the end. Nothing terrible, but nothing worthy of note either.

Rating: 4/10

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