“Takers,” a new crime drama starring rapper T.I. and disgraced singer Chris Brown as part of a high tech band of thieves, aspires to reach the operatic heights of “The Godfather” but instead hurdles past that into the bullet ridden over-the-top zone inhabited by the high style violence of “Scarface.“
“We’re takers gents,” says Gordon Jennings, played by “The Wire’s” Idris Elba. “That’s what we do for a living—we take.” By take he means steal, and it is something he and his team—Jake and Jesse Attica (Michael Ealy and Chris Brown), A.J. (Hayden Christensen) and John Rahway (Paul Walker)—are very good at. They arrange wild, but carefully planned robberies, bank the money and live well. When Ghost (rapper T.I.), an old member of the team, gets out of jail they decided to break their golden rule of taking a year off between jobs. Ghost devises a “foolproof” plan to rob an armoured car, a job which will net the bandits 30 to 40 million dollars. Trouble is, they only have five days to plan the heist and a trigger-happy cop (Matt Dillon) on their trail.
“Takers” looks great; like an expensive music video. Every frame feels carefully thought out, with interesting editing and nice set decoration. But all the visual flash can’t disguise the stock characters, formulaic story and weak dialogue.
The bad guys are a breed we’ve seen before, and that’s OK, this is a popcorn b-movie after all, but some are more convincing—thank you Idris Elba—than others—I’m looking at you Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen. Elba lends some heft to the character of Gordon, but Chris Brown’s best moment in the film is a long foot chase scene, where tellingly, he doesn’t have any dialogue. Dillon is convincing enough as the troubled cop, but it is a part that, at this point in his career, he could play in his sleep.
Dialogue wise, save for the odd quotable line like “I’ll put three holes in your head like a bowling ball,” it sounds as though the script was run through the Cliché-A-Matic machine. We’ve heard and seen it all before—the patented tough guy talk, the ill fated robbery, the unorthodox but driven cop. Many aspects of this movie will give you a distinct feeling of déjà vu, but director John Luessenhop approaches these truisms with such gusto that the movie can be almost forgiven.
The shoot-outs are wild—the hotel room gun battle makes Al Pacino’s fiery blow out at the end of “Scarface” look restrained—and the action sequences are breathless, if occasionally a little hard to follow due to frenetic camerawork.
“Takers” is silly, but silly fun. A crowd pleaser that won’t stay with you once you leave the theatre, but is a hoot while you’re sitting in the dark.