If Inside Man is a heist film for grownups, and Ocean’s 11 is for adolescents, then John Luessenhop’s new film Takers is for prepubescences who would be in to xXx had they not been two when it was released. Sure, some of the ingredients were there to make an average, or even above average action film, but they weren’t put to use properly.
The Takers are a band of sophisticated thieves that work wisely, and enjoy the finer things in life: Land Rovers, private rooms at exclusive clubs, expensive booze and cigars, and tailored clothes. The George Clooney of this crew is certainly Gordon (Idris Elba), and his Brad Pitt is John (Paul Walker). A former member of their crew named ‘Ghost’ (played by rapper T.I.) is released from a five year stint in prison, tracks down his former colleagues and convinces them to do one hurried, but very lucrative deal. On the flip side, two cops (Matt Dillon, and Jay Hernandez) are working against them.
The following contains minor spoilers.
I was a little astounded at the amount of material that was borrowed from The Italian Job. The major heist pulled off in the film involves the gang hacking into the city system that controls street lights to help direct an armored truck to a specific location where explosives blow a hole in street where the crew is waiting below. Really Leussenhop? Four people are credited with writing the script, and this is the best you could come up with? At one point, we’re asked to believe that Hayden Christensen (weighing in at a buck twenty tops, and wearing a fedora) could easily take on three enormous guidos with bats.
That’s not to say it was all bad. There were hints and glimmers of a solid film. Elba is quite captivating on screen, as always. The talented Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays his crack head sister. She’s always a pleasure to watch. And it turns out that T.I. isn’t such a horrible actor. I was slightly confused at the casting of Chris Brown, however. Every time he leaned in to do a one-armed man huge, I wanted to shout out to the screen, ‘Careful, that dude’s going to bite you!’ The best part of the film is the first half, where time is allowed for the characters and suspense to build up at a nice, even keel. Even after that, there are some thrilling action sequences that start out pleasing, but end up absurdly defying logic and physics. It was a valiant effort, but in the end, it flops.