Takers isn’t a bad movie per se more that it doesn’t offer anything new to the genre and features characters who, for the most part, aren’t very well rounded save for maybe Idris Elba’s character. I did enjoy a couple of the scenes which were efficiently shot but otherwise this is a very forgettable film.
Genre(s): Action, Crime
Sony | PG13 – 107 min. – $34.95 | January 18, 2011
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Writer(s): Peter Allen & Gabriel Casseus and John Luessenhop & Avery Duff
Cast: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen
Theatrical Release Date: August 27,2010
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Music Video, movieIQ, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
Note: This review contains spoilers.
“Who’s taking who?” Who cares?
The heist genre needn’t break new ground in terms of story and in fact can range from the overly mysterious (David Mamet’s Heist) to fun (The Italian Job), sexy cool (Ocean’s 11) and character driven (Heat) so there’s plenty of wiggle room in the genre. In the case of Takers, it seems the writers also liked those movies and figured they might as well borrow from them putting it all together hoping something sticks. And while parts of the film are actually entertaining, as a whole it’s just another forgettable crime drama with inspirations of being something more.
The story and set-up is fairly simple. You have a group of master thieves – which includes John Rahway (PAUL WALKER), Gordon Cozier (IDRIS ELBA), brothers Jake (MICHAEL EALY) and Jesse Attica (CHRIS BROWN) and demo expert A.J. (HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN) – who are smart and highly skilled at what they do. The movie opens up with this crew robbing a bank, making a clever getaway avoiding the police and building security.
This crew apparently has been active for some time and obsessively on their trail is Jack Welles (MATT DILLON), a detective with the L.A.P.D. who doesn’t mind bending the rules to get the information he needs/wants. His partner is Detective Eddie Hatcher (JAY HERNANDEZ) who we learn has a kid with an expensive illness (this won’t come into play later on, will it???) while Jack is dealing with a separation from his wife as his work also comes in between spending time with his daughter.
Meanwhile, a former member of the crew named Ghost (TIP “T.I.” HARRIS) has been released from jail after a four year stint. He was locked up after one of their robberies went bad and he was shot but he didn’t rat out the others while they kept his cut safe and earning interest. However, Ghost doesn’t seem too happy after seeing the success the crew has been having and the fact the others aren’t too eager to bring him back in either. But good old Ghost has a job for them: robbing an armed car carrying $25 million. The only hitch is it has to be done in less than a week. Despite their misgivings and what Ghost gets out of the deal, they take it as the clichéd “one last job” before going on their separate ways for an early retirement, a couple for crystal blue water, hot women and gorgeous beaches.
That’s the gist for Takers and admittedly did think the movie itself was a little better than what the trailers made it out to be. There are actually a few scenes that were, shockingly, pretty darn effective. The first is a chase scene that I think uses Parkour as a way for the suspect to get away from the police. It’s a long scene but was entertaining, albeit still not entirely original since it was done prior in Casino Royale. The other was a hotel shootout in which our robbers are trading gunfire with some pissed-off Russians. In this scene the audio is dropped out and an acoustic violin version of Lisa Gerrard’s haunting piece “Sacrifice” plays as bullets tear up the place. Of course, as with the chase scene, this too had been done… in 2009’s Sherlock Holmes.
However, the good in this movie are too few and far between as the rest is just another generic heist/ensemble movie and not a very interesting one at that. The characters, for the most part, are one-dimensional with only maybe Idris Elba’s character getting some depth and exploration as he’s doing the job so he and his junkie sister can get back home (naïve that doing so will actually help her, but at least it’s a reason beyond greed).
Then you have the film’s primary nemesis in T.I. (also served executive producer) who is at least not a clichéd mustache-twirling villain yet still has the oldest motive in the book: revenge and money. Of course, by the same token I don’t quite understand that if he brought the heist plan to the gang why they didn’t think he’d double cross them especially since he’s not even getting a cut of the score… Unless I missed something, it’s definitely perplexing as the only money he got was the $250,000 from the previous robbery in which he was caught.
Takers was directed, with inspiration from the old rat pack movies of the 1960s, by John Luessenhop whose only other credited work was on a 2000 prison drama, Lockdown starring Richard T. Jones and Master P amongst others. I will give him credit for utilizing various Los Angeles landmarks and making each character look good, it’s just a shame the screenplay (which Luessenhop co-wrote with a couple other first-time writers) wasn’t more of a help.
Admittedly while Takers has its fair share of problems and I can’t quite say it’s a good or even above average film, it’s not as bad as some critics or the trailers have made it out to be. The film does ‘borrow’ from other better heist and crime-dramas but at least a couple of those scenes are effective enough and provide some entertainment value, even if it is short lived.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1/5
BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES – 2/5
movieIQ – Sony’s staple feature allows you to see certain details about a movie like a cast member’s filmography, the name of a song and other bits of trivia connected via BD-Live. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Feature Commentary – The track features director John Luessenhop, producers Will Packer and Jason Geter and actor/executive producer Tip “T.I.” Harris. The track offers up insight into how the movie was shot, shooting at different locations and just general info on the production. It’s a fairly low-key track, though the gang does some joking around, but it’s not a very interesting track compared with some others I’ve listened to.
Executing the Heist: The Making of Takers (11:13; HD) – This is a basic behind-the-scenes feature where various members of the cast and crew talk about why Takers is such a great story and film as a whole. You’re not going to get much out of this as you’re introduced to the cast/crew and what they bring to the film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Take Action! (10:08; HD) – The featurette obviously focuses on the action sequences in the film from the chase scene, the bank heist to the armored car robbery. This has more behind-the-scenes footage – and shows some of the movie magic for the helicopter explosion – plus comments from the cast and crew. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Last up is a Music Promo for T.I.’s song, “Yah Ya Know (Takers)” and a BD-Live portal (** Blu-ray Exclusive **).
VIDEO – 4/5
Takers is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture is very clear throughout and while I thought the detail levels could’ve been a tad better (some shots seemed a little soft) all in all this is a good looking movie. Black levels as well as colors are well balanced throughout avoiding any crushing or bleeding.
AUDIO – 4/5
The disc comes with a standard 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which isn’t anything amazing still gets the job done and then some. Dialogue is crisp and clear while the action scenes provide depth. During those scenes, the low level frequency did kick on but it’s not exactly overwhelming.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Takers isn’t a bad movie per se more that it doesn’t offer anything new to the genre and features characters who, for the most part, aren’t very well rounded save for maybe Idris Elba’s character. I did enjoy a couple of the scenes which were efficiently shot but otherwise this is a very forgettable film. The Blu-ray meanwhile offers up good video and audio transfers but fall short with a couple ho-hum featurettes and a decent commentary track.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman