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Aug312010

TAKERS is one shaky mess of a heist (review)

Rating:  (Bad)

I saw Takers with a theater full of rowdy, loud women. Midnight showings often bring out the dedicated and hardcore, but these ladies came to see one man. No, not heartthrob Paul Walker, not Michael Ealy, not T.I. They came to see Chris Brown. The moment Brown hit the screen, all I could hear were "woo"s, "aww yeahs", and "mmm mmm"s. Pretty hilarious, really. The ladies made the same sounds later on when Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire) got out of bed in his underwear. This was not a quiet experience at the theater. 

It's fitting that Takers is about as overblown as its audience. Like all urban heists, all the pieces are in place.

The team: Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, Idris Elba, T.I., and Paul Walker.

The cops: Matt Dillon and Eddie Hatcher

The girl: Zoe Saldana

The plan: steal $30 million from some armored trucks using bombs, holes, traffic lights, and parkour. It's The Italian Job meets hole digging from Ocean's Thirteen.

The setup

Oh, I almost forget the setup. Okay, so there's this team (you know, the one with Chris Brown) who rob banks about once a year. They're masters of the heist and live extravagant lives filled with beautiful women like Zoe Saldana, fancy pianos, sparkling chardonnay, and expensive suits. Did I mention Zoe Saldana? She's as talented as she is gorgeous, but acting isn't needed here.

Anyway, everything is going great until a former team member gets out of jail. His name is Ghost, which is an apt name for the haunting fellow. From the moment we see Ghost, we know he's no good. The Team seems to know it too, but they take on his $30 million job anyway. Masters of the heist they may be, but smart they ain't.

Good acting, shaky camera

John Luessenhop directs his cast well. Idris Elba is fantastic as Gordon Jennings, but Marianne Jean-Baptiste is more impressive as his drugged out sister Naomi. Fans of Mike Leigh will remember Jean-Baptiste from Secrets & Lies. Here her talent is hardly tapped, but she does well under the constraints. Luessenhop also keeps Hayden Christensen's screen time and lines to a minimum, a smart decision. Everyone else performs adequately.

The real failure is the action. Luessenhop's action scenes are filled with repetitive close-ups and shaky, hand-cam running shots. It's a claustrophobic mess. Even astute moviegoers will have a tough time figuring out what the hell is going on when the bullets start flying. Surprisingly, even the cheesy, tragic violin, slow-mo, bullet-time scenes are impossible to decipher. If you can name a memorable shot, I'd love to hear it, but none stuck with me.

The Italian fuckup

Bottom line, these guys are idiots. Their plan is terrible and their execution is worse. They're so sloppy, a smart cop would have caught them in the first act. Sadly, the most intelligent cop in Takers is played by Matt Dillon. The action is shaky and claustrophobic and the plot is preposterous. But hey, it's better than Brooklyn's Finest...  

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