By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Chris Brown and T.I. produced Takers, a heist film that borrows rather liberally from its peers. There are a few films out there that should probably feel flattered, but, instead, they more than likely feel robbed. This film doesn't add anything worthwhile to the genre and the only reason it exists is for the producers/actors to have (what they must think is) a “cool” movie to strut around in.
The story starts out with a bank robbery that hinges on one specific, uncontrolled outside element, which, realistically, could easily never have happened. Then we get to spend some time with the robbers. They all drive fancy, expensive cars and dress in fancy, expensive suits. It’s difficult to believe that a group of common, street criminals (one of the team used to “boost Cameros” before they moved on to bigger scores) would show the level of sophistication that these thieves appear to have. Money doesn’t automatically give someone taste and manners, but these guys all have it. It might be an attempt by the writers to get us to side with criminals, but it ends up being the second strike against realism. One of the gang gets released from jail – he must have been in a long time while his friends learned to be cultured – and he talks and acts like the other guys probably should. (This character is played by T.I., so don’t take the “acts” in the previous sentence too seriously.)
Meanwhile, we have a pair of cops that are trying to catch these criminals. The writers want us to sympathize with one of these officers, played by Matt Dillon, and it’s really unclear who the filmmakers want the audience to root for. The good guys have bad guy attributes and the bad guys act like good guys (…when they aren’t blowing things up and shooting people.) Speaking of the audience, most of the attendees laughed at inappropriate places at several different times during the film. This has to be the most unintentionally funny film I’ve seen in public.
Back to the writing: They steal the armored car robbery trick from The Italian Job, but, since they make a reference to that movie inside of this one, that apparently makes it okay. (When I write my hack casino heist film I will just have one of the characters say, “So we’re gonna pull an Ocean’s Eleven?” and then I can use the same sequence of events, right?) There’s also a later shootout that’s right out of True Romance. (Unfortunately, without the Elvis appearance.)
On the good side of things, there is a parkour-type chase through the crowded streets of L.A. where Chris Brown’s character jumps on cars and flips over obstacles while evading the police. It’s different than just about anything else I’ve ever seen, but the shaky camerawork and the choppy editing made it very difficult to tell just exactly what was going on. It’s a good scene, but it could have been a great one. Hayden Christensen has a fight scene at one point in the film that is also pretty good, but his character doesn’t do much more than that. Zoë Saldaña is severely underutilized and has maybe two minutes of screen time throughout the entire film. She gives this one really effective look though. Paul Walker’s character has one moment of action, but that’s about it for him. Sidenote: Every movie I’ve seen that stars Paul Walker has been so terrible that I started using his presence in a film as an early indicator that it would suck. (So far, the only exception to this Paul Walker rule that I’ve encountered is Into the Blue.)
Back to the bad: The ending. Remember when I mentioned that the writers didn’t give the audience a definite side to be on? Well, the ending tries (on some level) to please the good guys and the bad guys. It doesn’t succeed and the film has an ambiguous end that never completely resolves the story. It just sorta ends and you get to think about what happens next. Or not care, depending on your level of involvement.
Just last year, Matt Dillon was in another armored car heist film by the same guy that directed Predators, Nimród Antal. The film is called Armored…it’s essentially a B-movie, some of the scenes seriously strain credibility and it’s a more rewarding ride than the one you get from Takers. There’s also a crime involving an armored car in the canceled TV series Smith, and it’s one of the better and more intricate heists in recent fiction, even though there are multiple unresolved plotlines because the second half of the season was never even filmed.
Despite the good points, Takers is just not worth your time. Any of the films that it directly tries to emulate (in one way or another) would be better choices: The Italian Job, True Romance, Heat, Casino Royale, the Bourne sequels. Some of the other somewhat recent heist films would also be better choices: The Bank Job, Heist, Ocean’s Eleven, Sexy Beast, even The Score. And if you haven't already seen Inception then that’s your best choice for a heist film...and it's still in theaters.