The "One Last Big Heist" is a theme of the crime caper genre which has proven to be quite popular over the years. Takers employs that tried and true formula in entertaining fashion, recycling vaguely familiar scenes from the likes of The Italian Job, Ocean's 11, True Romance, District B-13 and, perhaps most obviously, Heat.
When such a cobbling of stock elements creates a uniquely compelling adventure, it's generally referred to as an homage. But if the movie merely seems like a shameless rehash of other picture's greatest moments, we tend to dismiss it as an unworthy rip-off. Takers teeters precariously on the dividing line between hit and miss, belatedly getting around to offering just enough edge of your seat excitement to make you stop wondering where you might have seen this or that bit before.
Set in Los Angeles and directed by John Luessenhop (Lockdown), the film features a talented ensemble headed by recently-paroled rap star T.I. who is typecast as Ghost, a recently-paroled ex-con. Chris Brown co-stars, but not as a guy who beat up his girlfriend, although his best scene is a great escape where he runs for his life from guys angrier than Rihanna's big brothers.
As the film unfolds, we are treated to the sight a smoothly-executed bank robbery which nets the gang (Brown, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen) a cool $2 million. However, before they even have a chance to divvy up the take, who should show up unexpectedly, but their former partner in crime, Ghost, looking something like a, er, well, like someone who just rose from the dead.
He's inclined to overlook the fact that he was dumped for pal Jake (Ealy) by impatient girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) while he was up the river, so long as the boys are willing to let him mastermind an armored car robbery five days from now. They agree, even though it involves breaking an unwritten rule calling for a year off between burglaries. Several slightly-developed subplots supply the rationale for this deviation from the norm, such as Gordon's (Elba) desperately needing more cash to move his substance-abusing sister (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) from a rehab center to the Caribbean.
The deliberate pace finally speeds up after we've become acquainted with each of the guys. That's because the LAPD officers (Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez) keeping the crew under surveillance spring into action after uncovering evidence proof of felonious intent.
Fair warning: the highly-stylized romp which ensues revolves more around visually-captivating detonations, chase scene and fight sequences than around the sort of cerebral fare one ordinarily associates with a cat-and-mouse affair. Mindless mayhem perfect for fans of pyrotechnics for pyrotechnics sake.
Good (2 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, graphic violence and partial nudity.
Running time: 107 Minutes
Distributor: Screen Gems
To see a trailer for Takers