Takers Directed by: John Luessenhop Cast: Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Chris Brown, Zoe Saldana Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: August 27, 2010
PLOT: A group of bank robbers decide to rush their next job for a potential $20 million pay out, but a detective (Dillon) is hot on their trail.
WHO'S IT FOR? You must love at least two of the actors in this film in order to get attached to it. That's the requirement. It's a typical cops, robbers and "one big job" story.
EXPECTATIONS: Luessenhop directed Lockdown in 2000. Remember that movie? No, not Rundown with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ... Lockdown. I'm not sure what Luessenhop has been doing since then, but it didn't instill a lot of faith going into this one.
Matt Dillon as Jack Welles: Something is fishy, and it's up to the grisly veteran detective Jack Welles to solve it. It's odd, but Dillon actually looks dirty the entire time. Not just unshowered and unshaven, but dirty. Dillon throws himself into this cop role as the good guy one step behind the bad. Jack can't turn off being a cop even when his young daughter is along for the ride. It's actually not a bad performance, and it stands out as the best in this movie. That's really not saying much when dealing with the rest of the cast. Score: 6
Hayden Christensen as A.J.: Probable conversation with Christensen and the director ... - "Um, Hayden what's that on your head?" - "Dude, trust me. All the kids are wearing them. This will prove I'm tough. This hat is sweet!" - "I don't know." - "Trust me. I was Anakin. I know quality." The hat, the smoking and the tattoos don't make me think A.J. is tough. He did a pretty good job knocking around three guys in a trailer. Not a bad fight scene at all. It's too bad he had other moments than that. Score: 4
Idris Elba as Gordon Jennings: Elba proved he can be amazing on the small screen with "The Wire." He hasn't proved himself on the big screen yet. Gordon is the ring leader. He struts around and has a pretty logical head. He's dragged down by a side story here with his drugged-out sister (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). It's not a good sign when people in the theater end up laughing when she reappears on the screen. No side story works in this film, but this is the worst. Score: 5
T.I. as Ghost: He used to be part of the gang until he got shot and did time. Now, he's back and everyone is suspicious of his motives. That doesn't stop them from going along with all of his ideas. It's lazy writing. Also, T.I. is like 130 pounds right? That doesn't instill much toughness here. He puffs his chest out in every scene, but that doesn't help. He does get a fashion montage of trying on suits, so at least there's that for die-hard fans. Score: 4
Chris Brown as Jesse Attica: Nothing here makes me think this guy can act. Black women can unite over a one-second moment where he checks out a white girl (which seems totally pointless in this film). Beyond that, Brown did prove he can run. Check out my "Best Scene" below. Score: 5
Zoe Saldana as Rachel Jansen: I know, I'm as shocked as you are to see Saldana in this nothing role. Score: 4
TALKING: The detectives say things like this when talking about the bad guys ... "They're hot. It will make it that much sweeter when we take them down." And the bad guys say things like, "We're takers. We take." So, the answer is no, don't see this movie for the dialogue. It's basic, and exists simply to move us from one moment to the next, so we can get to the final action sequence. Score: 4
SIGHTS: The first bank job is ordinary. The second job goes terribly wrong, almost showcasing that these guys aren't that good. There's a pretty big gap in between the two. The climatic battle involving Russians, shot guns and running is terribly over-directed. Instead of just showing the action, the director uses slow-motion, classical music, and echoed voices. It zaps all fun out of the scene, and fails to create any drama. Score: 5
SOUNDS: The guns and punches sound like they're supposed to, except of course during the big shoot-out with the Russians (as talked about above). I can't actually think of one song that stood out during this film. You'd think that wouldn't be the case with the likes of Brown and T.I. involved in the film. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: Chris Brown is running. Then he runs some more. Then he pushes people down, and runs some more. More people pushing, more running, and some jumping. It doesn't really fit the movie, after all, Brown isn't one of the three most important bad guys. That doesn't matter. It's over-the-top fun.
ENDING: Um, so ... I guess we're happy for the ones who got away? I never felt like I was rooting for anyone, so the ending didn't matter at all.
QUESTIONS: This should have been the story that Stallone made around the cast of The Expendables. Don't believe me? I'll break down the cast in the OVERALL section. Can you believe I didn't even talk about Paul Walker in the acting above? That's because he really doesn't have much to do in the movie. He plays John who is Gordon's right hand man. That's about it.
REWATCHABILITY: Nope. If I am flipping through the channels, and this movie is on, I may remember to try and watch Brown's chase sequence again. That's it.
It needs to be said again, just like it was in the movie ... We're takers. We take.
Yes, they do take. They take a group of B-list actors and put them all together, hoping you'll be tremendously excited to see a couple of them. They take an ordinary script and don't offer anything new in the heist genre. Perhaps most importantly, the director takes his knowledge of past Tarantino projects (like True Romanace and Reservoir Dogs) and attempts to imitate them. He doesn't come close. In the game of cops and robbers, we need something to hold onto. We need someone to cheer for. I never got that from the good guys, the bad guys and the shade-of-gray guys. There will be some people thrilled so see T.I. and Chris Brown act. That will be enough for them. The attempt of acting isn't enough for me.
This did leave me with one lingering thought ... Stallone's Expendables would have done better with this story. I can see it now.
Sylvester Stallone = Matt Dillon Jet Li = Chris Brown Jason Statham = Paul Walker Mickey Rourke = Idris Elba Dolph Lundgren = T.I. Eric Roberts = Jay Hernandez Steve Austin = Hayden Christensen
There, I just made The Expendables better. In other words, watching the actors chew up standard, melodramatic, cheesy lines is enjoyable if you have a passion for those actors involved. I only "like" Idris Elba. And I'm realizing the only reason is because of "The Wire" (best show ever). Dillon, Walker, Christensen and the rest of them don't "do it" for me, so I'm dependent on the movie creating interesting characters. Didn't happen. Takers didn't take.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10