The new film Takers hopes to offer audiences an exciting twist on the heist film genre. With an interesting cast and an appealing look, people aren’t quite sure what to expect from it. Now that I’ve seen it, I can safely say there is certainly a unique style and flair to it all and in the end, it may just be the perfect way to end the summer movie season.
Takers follows five bank robbers (Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy and Chris Brown). The group has had some good luck lately and as the film opens, we see them executing yet another successful heist.
Our suave group of thieves celebrate their latest victory and they all head off to do their own thing, until the next heist. Enter Ghost (Tip Harris). Ghost has just been freed from jail and he wants back into the game. Ghost used to work with the aforementioned crew until he got caught during a heist back in 2004.
While the gang is skeptical of Ghost’s true motives at first, they decide to let him back in. He tells them about a heist that may be their biggest score yet, an armored car robbery that could bring them $25 million. It won’t be easy though. Hot on their trail are detective Welles (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie (Jay Hernandez) who are investigating the heist that we saw at the start of the film. As tension builds and the stakes are raised, we know that this isn’t going to be a walk in the park.
As you can probably tell from the trailers and from my plot summary, the general plot of the film is quite formulaic. I’ll admit it, a lot of the usual cliches found in heist films are found here. At times it even looks like director John Luessenhop may be ripping scenes right from Michael Mann’s Heat. Luckily, Luessenhop and his team of writers make enough smart choices to keep this from being another rehashed and cliched heist film.
Luessenhop infuses an appealing sense of style into the film. From our band of thieves who always dress like they’re headed to a GQ shoot, to the lighting used in certain scenes, to the fast paced editing and cutting of the film and everything in between, it’s all very stylized. Between the visual flair and interesting choice of music, Luessenhop balances the style just right so it never becomes obtrusive, rather it enhances the film. Everything is levelled perfectly so it never feels like overkill (I’m looking at you Mr. Scott Pilgrim).
While the acting isn’t exactly Oscar material, it does work and turns out to be a lot better than expected. All the characters are so likeable and charismatic that you really don’t know who to root for, the detectives or the thieves. The strongest performances come from the always reliable Idris Elba and the usually dependable Michael Ealy. Both have a strong screen presence and Elba especially is very commanding in all his scenes and does a great job as the leader of the pack.
Rounding out the crew of thieves are Chris Brown, Tip Harris, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen.
Brown, as expected, gives the worst performance and probably shouldn’t quit his day job. Easily the weakest link in the otherwise strong cast, he never really feels like he fits in or like he should be there. He just can’t act, it’s as simple as that. His presence is awkward and while I don’t really have a problem with his character, I just think someone else should have played it.
Christensen and Walker don’t do a whole lot and are really just there to offer up some eye candy for the ladies. Their parts aren’t that big, especially Christensen’s and it’s a shame because Christensen isn’t a bad actor. Neither are particularly weak in their roles, they do what you’d expect, they just don’t have a whole lot to work with.
Lastly we have Tip Harris who surprisingly gives a better than expected performance. He convincingly plays the part of the sleazy and smooth talking Ghost. He had a couple great lines and his screen presence was pretty good considering it was his first major acting gig. He seemed like he was genuinely trying and to be honest, he was a lot better than I thought he would be.
Dillon and Hernandez do adequate work as the cops and as mentioned before, they make us sympathize with them at some parts. They both craft likeable characters and despite not being the protagonists, you may find yourself rooting for them at certain points.
In this testosterone filled film there weren’t many female roles. Zoe Saldana was underused as Michael Ealy’s girlfriend and her cliched part doesn’t really do anything for the film. Perhaps she was just there so the guys would have some eye candy.
The other female role went to Marianne Jean-Baptiste who plays Idris Elba’s sister. Being an Oscar nominated actress you know she’s going to give at least a half decent performance, and she does. At the end of the day though, neither of the female roles are really fleshed out and neither actress is given much time. Even worse is the fact that Baptiste’s role feels annoying and unnecessary and the film could have probably benefited without it.
Accompanying the entertaining characters is some phenomenal stunt work and some truly exhilarating action scenes. Boasting an on foot chase scene that alone could be worth the price of admission and an operatic shootout that would make Luc Besson and John Woo proud, Takers truly offers some spectacular action set pieces.
As mentioned before, the plot is formulaic and there are cliches but surprisingly, it never feels stale or boring. Over the top at times, yes. But never boring or dull. The writers throw in a couple surprising twists and manage to keep our attention the whole way through.
Oozing with style, Luessenhop has put together a very flashy and appealing film. He has crafted an exciting and often thrilling movie that will surely entertain audiences.
Takers doesn’t really offer anything new. In fact it gives us a lot of things that we’ve seen before. But with Luessenhop behind the camera, everything is brushed up with style and it feels fresh and very watchable. It’s an above average heist film and while it could have benefited from an R rating, it is still one of the better films of the summer.
Takers is an above average heist film and while it could have benefited from an R rating, it is still one of the better movies of the summer.