Monday, January 31, 2011

Film Review-Takers

Film Review-Takers

Michael Mann’s “Heat” cast a heavy influence over many heist movies that came after it. “Takers" referenced this in the first 15 minutes by having the ski-masked, body armor equipped, assault rifle wielding robbers take down a bank and get away clean.  “Takers” features a multi-racial group of robbers and this could have been an interesting part of the story.  However the film, directed by John Luessenhop, mostly sticks to genre conventions.
I didn't care about the characters until the last 20 minutes or so. The movie doesn’t succeed in making you care about them.
The robbery team is composed of Idris Elba (the leader), Paul Walker (the quietly efficient and dangerous second-in-command), Hayden Christensen (a blues piano playing front man who is tougher than he looks), and Michael Ealy and Chris Brown (who play brothers who are quite protective of each other)

An imprisoned crew member (T.I.) is released early and comes to the crew with a BIG job that must be done right away. This violates their rules as Idris prefers to plan out jobs to the last detail.  He also likes to take at least a year between heists.  But the money is too good to miss and so the big job is undertaken. T.I. apparently holds no resentment for the fact that Michael Ealy is marrying T.I.'s former girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), or the fact that he’s been in prison for the past few years. 
Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez star as cops that are on the crew's trail. Dillon’s character is a somewhat nicer version of the cop he played in “Crash”. Steve Harris and Glynn Turman play the police bosses who do the usual yelling and blustering about the rules and lawsuits. Nick Turtorro plays a stereotypical Italian lowlife who knows a guy who knows a guy…

This is an ensemble cast but Idris is the lead and doesn't have enough to do. The movie gives him a subplot with a problematic older sister but it falls flat.  Elba has no romantic tension to drive the story. There is no man meets woman, man loses woman etc. The film sets this up with Ealy but he's not the lead and Saldana isn’t given anywhere near enough screen time. We simply don't care about her. She barely has lines or scenes with Ealy.

T.I. does a good job playing an intelligent man who is always two steps ahead of everyone else and whose smiling face doesn't tell you what he's thinking.  The final 20 minutes were predictable and stretch the bounds of the movie's PG-13 rating. This movie should have taken more chances. It should have gone for the R rating.  It also would have helped immensely if we had more information on how such a diverse crew had hooked up and stayed together. We have nothing to explain the crew’s motivations, history or loyalty to one another.  I did like seeing a group of black men on screen with different personalities. I don't know if this was Chris Brown's first film role or not but he didn’t embarrass himself.
I give this movie 5/10 stars. It had style but not quite enough meat. This film doesn’t compare well with the similar movie “The Town”. It was shot well and looked good but the story just wasn’t strong enough to fully recommend.  When a director can make Elba and Saldana forgettable, he’s doing something wrong.  My verdict is this film was generic.
If you saw this film, what did you think?  (No spoilers please) If you didn’t see this film would you rent it?
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