Movie Review: Takers (2010)

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Chris Brown and Michael Ealy in Takers
Photo: Screen Gems

There’s really no way of confusing what you think Takers will be and what it is. This is a C-level Michael Mann heist film that loses the grit in favor of gloss. It admittedly steals from The Italian Job while cribbing from a slew of other similarly themed features, most of which are all better than what you get here.

However, I think it would be dishonest to say Takers is a film actually trying to be as good as any of the films you could compare it to, though it certainly takes itself way too seriously at times. I will give it kudos for at least offering some level of audience participation as most of the people in the theater will be laughing at the silliness on screen or at the very least chuckling as the ladies in the audience collectively let out an audible gasp during a moment when Idris Elba stands up in his boxer briefs and swings to his right.

Takers features Elba, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown and Michael Ealy as a crew of professional thieves. As the film opens we watch as they handily steal $2 million, escape in a news chopper and then drive away in their luxury vehicles. Dressed to the nines, they spend their nights sipping scotch and smoking cigars, but this happy quintet is about to get a shake-up when their one-time partner, Ghost (T.I.), is released from jail after serving a few years after getting caught in one of the crew’s prior missions.

Ghost arrives with a plan to steal $25 million in an armored car heist. The crew typically does only one job a year, but with Ghost’s plan and the lucrative pay-off they decide to go for it.

On the other side of the equation are eager beaver detective Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie (Jay Hernandez). These two hope to throw a wrench in the works all while dealing with their own set of problems in an effort to make the story overly dramatic as is only fitting a film of this sort and boasting a cast of this grade.

All that said, if you intend to see Takers I hope you’re going in with the right expectations. If not, here are a few pointers.

Be prepared to laugh at the characters and not with them. T.I.’s performance as Ghost is enough for a half-hour comedy sketch of his own. I’m still not sure if his narration of Paul Walker’s hijacking of an armored car was meant to be as funny as it is, because it was downright hilarious. The dialogue is loaded with cliched one-liners and when the sap is poured on it’s poured thick, especially when Chris Brown is given a more serious moment late in the game, “It’s almost as if… he wanted me to shoot him.” Oh man, it’s comedy gold, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Director John Luessenhop shows flashes of talent during the film’s centerpiece and a free-for-all gun fight at the end. Brown, while not exactly being much of an actor, does get to be a part of a rather impressive foot chase and Luessenhop does his best to turn a hotel room shoot out into something that feels mildly unique. Though the cheese is turned right back up almost immediately in a sequence featuring Brown and Ealy that is just downright silly.

Takers is a film you laugh at, but it’s easy to hang with for its 107 minute runtime even though the setup of the film’s centerpiece heist is rather mundane and the final 15 minutes slowly begin to lose your interest. Yet, there are more than enough shared laughter moments that a fun audience should be able to have a good time providing you paid a matinee price and are expecting a film on par with the talent involved (Elba, of course, excluded).

GRADE: C