Sunday, June 19, 2011

TAKERS (2010) - Review

Heist movies are not usually very complicated, but they do require a certain level of sophistication in order to draw us into the world of cops and robbers. One heist movie I can think of, overwhelmingly ambitious and exciting, epic in scope and a fine example of complex storytelling is Michael Mann's "Heat" starring Al Pacino and Robert de Niro on opposing sides of the law. Few other movies ever achieved that level of ambition. Even the better ones, like Ben Affleck's "The Town", while clever and appropriately dramatic, were nothing more than exciting action movies at heart. Then there's the overly sophisticated sort like David Mamet's "Heist" that just suck the pleasure right out of the whole thing.

"Takers" takes the low road. It's not smart enough to be among the cream of the crop, but it's exciting enough to deserve a chance. Some better casting and writing could have helped this movie be remembered a year from now. The story follows a hip group of young up-and-comers who pull of bank heists once a year. It might not seem like much, but they earn enough to keep their life of luxury intact. After one such bold and successful heist, they are offered another job by a former partner, who was just released from prison. The reason he was in prison was because they left him behind, so you could see how there might be some hard feelings involved. Reluctant at first, they eventually accept and begin to plan an armored car heist. Hot on their trails is a cop played by Matt Dillon.

There's a lot of enthusiasm in the way "Takers" plays out. There are some thrilling action set-pieces. The heist itself is pretty spectacular and the firefights would make John Woo proud. Unfortunately that's not nearly enough to make this pass as a superior heist movie. The dialogue is painfully banal, the plot is predictable and cliched, and the actors seem to be on auto-pilot. Some of them are pretty decent, like Matt Dillon or Idris Elba and Paul Walker is by now an experienced actor when it comes to action movies. Zoe Saldana also makes an appearance. But nothing really clicks, and the chemistry between the actors just isn't there. It's an ensemble movie, but the ensemble dynamics are flawed. That's a major setback.

Enthusiastic as he may have been, director John Luessenhop couldn't quite make all the pieces fit in the right way. The good and the bad almost cancel each other out in this movie, but it's still entertaining if you don't give the by-the-numbers plot too much thought. Just turn off your brain and enjoy this average heist movie.

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