Posts Tagged ‘Takers’


Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 5.52.05 PMIdris Elba is a busy man. He’s released seven movies this year and has several more on tap for 2017. He’s on track to join Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the world’s highest earning actors after turns in the mega-grossing The Jungle Book, Finding Dory and Zootopia.

If you don’t know the name you haven’t been paying attention. Rev up Netflix and check out his work on TV shows like The Wire or Luther and movies like RocknRolla or Beasts of No Nation and become a fan. You should know he was once voted one of People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People in the World and more than one twitter friend of mine refers to him as a “pretend boyfriend.”

Not only busy but good looking as well! I was pleased to be granted a fifteen-minute phone interview to discuss his debut in the Star Trek franchise as Krall, a hostile alien who causes trouble for Kirk, Spock and company in Star Trek Beyond.

I don’t usually write questions but I thought I might ask him if he watched Star Trek as a child. Would he consider himself a Trekker? Did he have a favourite Star Trek character growing up? Did he wonder what Star Trek fans would think of the predatory new character? Are there parallels between the film—and his character—and our world today? Has he considered what being part of the legacy of the show means?

If there was time at the end I might even follow up on the rumours and ask if he even wants to play James Bond.

Then the first call came in. “Idris is running behind.” Cool. This happens all the time on press days. Then another call and another and another. My phone hasn’t gotten this kind of workout since a Nigerian Prince called over and over to solicit my assistance in moving his fortune to North America. Each time a publicist announced another delay with the assurance the interview would still happen. As the time wore on the actual length of my interview began to tumble downhill from fifteen minutes down to seven.

In all two hours passed from my scheduled start time until my phone rang for real.

“Hi Richard, I’ll connect you with Idris,” said the perky voice on the other end of the line.


A minute passed before Elba’s familiar husky London accent filled my ear. Hallelujah! Better late than never. We talk over one another. “Hello… HELLO… Can you hear me?” It’s a bad cell phone connection. It sounds as if we’re talking through two tin cans connected by strings but I’ll take it.

I ask him about his childhood memories of Star Trek.

“It was a show me, my mum and my dad watched together,” he says. “They both liked it. It was a show that really took your imagination places. That’s my early memory of it. It was a really imaginative show that showed space travel in a way that was different, you know?”

It took him 23 seconds to speak the 50 words that told me his parents liked Star Trek. I mention this because as soon as he stopped talking and I started asking the next question I heard a strange beep beep sound followed by… nothing. The great void. No more husky voice. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

“Are you still there? I think we just lost him,” the eavesdropping publicist said. “Let me get him back for you. Just one second.”

I had visions of the actor walking around Fifth Avenue desperately yelling into his phone, “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” but in my heart I knew that wasn’t happening.

Minutes later she’s back. “I’m so sorry. We lost him. I know you only had a couple of minutes to speak with him…” actually it was twenty three seconds… “Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with him.”

My interview with Idris was over. Still born. Terminated before it even really began.

Was I mad? Not really. Frustrated? Yes. Not only had I wasted the afternoon waiting for Idris but now I didn’t have a story to file.

My friends on social media didn’t exactly see it my way. “What do you expect?” wrote one person. “He is the hottest man alive.” Another chose to look on the bright side. “That’s 45 seconds more Idris than the rest of us.” (I hadn’t yet timed the actual quote when hit facebook to vent.)

In the end it’s not a big deal. I’m choosing to look at the bright side. I didn’t get to chat with him but I do have a contender for the Guinness Book of World Records for Shortest (And Least Satisfying) Interview Ever.


tapemasters-takers“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.