Takers

TAKERS is a heist movie that features Paul Walker (THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 1,2,4-present) and Hayden Christensen (STAR WARS 2-3) as thieves, Jay Hernandez (HOSTEL, CARLITO’S WAY: RISE TO POWER) as one of the cops that’s out to get them, and Johnathon Schaech as their fence. Holy shit, this is like the EXPENDABLES of likable but bland, inarticulate would-be leading men! I bet they’re looking at Chris Klein for part 2. Maybe Scott Speedman.

Nah, that’s a cheap shot. The truth is I sort of like all those guys, or at least root for them to prove everybody wrong. Walker seems too nice to hate, and he’s been in a bunch of movies that I’ve enjoyed, and even been good in some of them. Hernandez – I liked the HOSTEL movies. Schaech channeled Swayze well in ROAD HOUSE 2. Christensen is all right, he’s just going down a path I cannot follow.

And to be honest I just cherrypicked the white guys in the cast, who aren’t necessarily the leads. The team also includes the very charismatic Idris Elba (and using his real accent), MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA’s Michael Ealy, the rapper T.I., and the strangler Chris Brown. Matt Dillon is partnered with Hernandez as sort of the main cop who’s on their trail. I automatically assumed he was a racist because of his part in CRASH, but if so they never made it obvious.

Of course the movie opens with the heisters in action, all convening in a building disguised as different types of employees. They put on ski masks, rob a bank and make a spectacular escape that relies on two iffy things happening:

1) a news helicopter arrives before the police because they called the media after a silent alarm was tripped
2) the news helicopter lands on top of the building because a fake security guard gestures for them to

So they plan carefully but gamble huge, I guess. It was much more likely for them to get busted or shot at the beginning then for this whole movie to happen. But it happened.

After the job of course they all go off to enjoy their hobbies. Walker has a racially diverse threesome in a swimming pool. Ealy proposes to his girlfriend, Zoe Saldana, while Christensen is in the same room practicing piano. I don’t think it was planned for creating a romantic mood, I think he just hangs out there. And Elba must be the nicest guy of the bunch because he spends his time visiting his crackhead sister (Marianne Jean-Baptiste from SECRETS & LIES) in rehab.

Elba seems like the leader, Walker possibly co-leader or assistant leader. They both wear nice suits. Christensen’s fashion sense is rough, like sand. He’s supposed to be some kind of Rat Pack guy, so he wears hats all the time and in the piano scene he also wears a wifebeater and has lots of tattoos. Normally I don’t use the term “wifebeater” for a John McClane style tank top, because it seems pretty classist to me, but I thought it would be a good segue to Chris Brown. He’s terrible in this comic relief kid brother role. His main character traits are that he owns a red motorcycle and smiles like a goofball. In one scene he eats an ice cream bar and leers at young women. He seems to get the worst dialogue in the movie, like, “Our biggest heist yet – you don’t seem jazzed,” or his dramatic crying scene where he informs the audience of a character’s guilt over stealing money by pondering, “It was kinda like… like he wanted me to shoot him.” These are terrible lines but a better actor could’ve made them less laughable. Don’t quit the day job of beating up celebrity women and getting rewarded for it because being in headlines is now more important than being an artist or non-woman-beater.

Shortly after the first job T.I. shows up as Ghost, a member of the crew that got busted 5 years ago, just got out and has a chip on his shoulder about it. Nobody trusts him and he acts like an asshole the whole time but he convinces them to rob some armored cars with him.

There’s lots of planning, buying explosives, etc., with the audience kept in the dark about what exactly is gonna go down. By the time it did happen I realized I had no idea what the different people’s jobs or specialties were. When everything goes south (because some maniac rode his bike out in front of the armored car right before it hit the explosives? I don’t get it) Walker spontaneously decides to walk over, punch one of the armored car drivers in the face, get in the car and do some impressive driving feats. I thought this was funny because he already seemed like Brian from THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS wearing nicer clothes, and showing his driving skills only reinforces that.

The thieves seem to be the protagonists, but then it keeps going back to Dillon and Hernandez. Both sides are just doing their jobs, but only one of the jobs is illegal, so the cops have that going for them. On the other hand, Dillon is kind of an idiot because he keeps trying to do police work even while it’s his weekend to be with his daughter. While most movie cops stick to disappointing their kids by missing a birthday party, recital or baseball game, this guy breaks his promise to bring the little girl to the farmer’s market and almost gets her shot by staking out crooks with her in the car.

I like how he sort of parallels Elba’s character in that both are doing a bad job of balancing work with family. Elba would pull it off better except somehow sis gets out of rehab early for doing a good job (does not sound like a very good rehab, in my opinion) and he can’t let her stay in his apartment because of the robbery plans. So he puts her up in a hotel and gives her some money. Bad idea.

There is some action involving guns and chases, all done with semi-legible shakycam. I kinda liked the fight in the mobile home construction office. There’s a good move where a guy lifts Christensen up to the low ceiling and breaks the fluorescent lights with him. But he finds a light saber shaped object, so they’re in trouble.

When Brown almost gets caught it turns out he’s a parkour expert. The camerawork obviously takes alot of the thrill out of it but at least there’s a bunch of stuntwork. He even does that DISTRICT B13 move of jumping feet-first through a small window on a door. But it’s not nearly as exciting when the face is hidden because it’s a stunt double. In B13 it was clearly the same actor we’ve been watching the whole movie so it was magic.

The climax seems to be an homage to TRUE ROMANCE – big shootout between various parties in a hotel, pillow feathers floating dreamily in the air, sad music, no gun sounds. I was kinda hoping they would play some jazz piano while hep cat Christensen got shot up, but no dice. The piano never comes up again.

This is an entirely watchable movie, I didn’t hate it, but it’s also completely generic and mediocre. Nothing new or particularly well crafted, and weak in many important areas (including characterization and cleverness of heists). The cheesy guitars and drums score is exactly like any other mediocre movie of this type, including many DTV ones. At least there’s more color and a better cast than some of the DTVs. It’s not all tinted blue or filmed in Bulgaria or anything.

Elba comes out of the movie the best, but everybody deserves more to do. I especially thought Ealy was wasted. At the beginning it seems like he’s gonna be the interesting one, then it kinda forgets about him. Saldana’s part is even worse, she’s nothing more than the girlfriend character. She accepts his marriage proposal and then looks guilty whenever ex-boyfriend Ghost gives her the evil eye. That’s it. It’s embarrassing to give her a ho role like this after she played such strong women in AVATAR, STAR TREK and COLOMBIANA.

Why did I get around to this movie at this late date? Well, you know me. The director/co-writer John Luessenhop is the guy who did the upcoming TEXAS CHAINSAW [MASSACRE] 3D, and I wanted an idea of what I was getting into. I got no illusions of anybody making a worthy followup to Tobe Hooper’s two masterpieces, but I at least hope for a fun movie in the style of the ’80s horror sequels. And in 3D. This guy, I mean I won’t write the movie off due to aggressive suckiness, but there’s no sign of a vision or much cleverness here. Unless his true self only comes alive for a TEXAS CHAINSAW movie I don’t think he’s capable of coming up with anything special. But I’ll watch it anyway. Just like I watched this.


This entry was posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012 at 2:56 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

35 Responses to “Takers”

  1. “Don’t quit the day job of beating up celebrity women and getting rewarded for it.”

    Excellent. Wait, are those little flags beside our comments?

  2. You’re too kind, Vern. This is an awful film. A bunch of skinny white kids and rappers saying tough guy lines and looking proud of themselves as if they thought they were making the next Heat, apart from Brown’s chase when I figured the editor had inserted a sequence from reboot Casino royale to pad the film out. The sad music that plays over the slo-mo True Romance ripoff shootout is unintentionally hilarious as is Brown’s emoting just before his (spoiler) death. Dillon, Saldana and Elba deserve way bwtter than this lazy effort.

  3. Only ever saw the trailers for these. My strongest impression was of Idris Elba talking about taking and we are takers because we take the take that is there for the taking.

    Shame it wasn’t a parralell film to Taken…I’ll get my coat.

  4. This actually just hit the German Pay TV circle a few days ago and it was on my watchlist, but now I got no interest in it anymore. Just because I didn’t know before, that Chris Brown is in it!

  5. I managed to catch the stand off once and was just laughing at the shoddy editing and suspect music. I doubt I’d be able to make it through the rest of the movie. Sure I’ve seen my share of stinkers and even crap that is still likeable in it’s own way but my patience might wear a bit thin when you have Chris Brown trying to pass himself off as an actor.

    Still haven’t seen ROAD HOUSE 2 because the cover made it look like a soft core flick but I might overlook my own ignorance and give it a look soon.

  6. If memory serves correctly, the part where he leers at the young women he does the ‘ummm-mmmm’ noise. It’s unclear whether he even knew the cameras were rolling.

  7. Again, watch The Losers. Both Elba and Saldana are in it and they play characters that are actually worth watching. And while The Losers isn’t a heist movie, it does have a heist scene that is way better than anything in Takers. Also, Takers is a horrible title.

    I will stand up for Christensen, though, and say that he was very impressive in Shattered Glass. Billy Ray (the director of Shattered Glass) also directed Breach. He also wrote the underrated State of Play and Paul Greengrass’ upcoming Captain Phillips. I think he’s quite good.

  8. Christiansen is pretty good in Brad Anderson’s pretty good VANISHING ON 7TH STREET, but mostly gives the vibe of a decent actor who hasn’t yet found role which really plays to his strengths.

    But Idris Elba definitely deserves better than this middling junk.

  9. The movie was so generic that i kept forgetting every scene as I went through the next one. I had to rewind a couple of time juste to remember who was who and doing what, and what for. I guess the worst is that everyone was doing too much to look cool (specially Paul Walker, as everytime in his movies). Kind of sad beacause I liked the cast and wanted to see Idris Elba in a kick Ass movie for once…

  10. I skipped TAKERS because it looks pretty lame but I am curious about it for the same reason Vern was, the director is doing the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D (a concept and format that seem made for each other). Maybe he can get Chris Brown to be sawed up in TCM3D, that is something I would pay to see.

  11. I actually remember quite liking this movie. However, I cannot remember anything about it. Is there a *SPOLIERS FOR MY MEMORY OF THINGS THAT MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE IN THIS FILM, BUT RATHER MIGHT HAVE BEEN SCENES FROM THE MOVIE I WAS WRITING IN MY HEAD WHILE WATCHING THIS MOVIE* subplot involving Dillion possibly stealing money and/or drugs himself? Did he end up interestingly morally compromised by the end, or did I just see a clean setup for that third act that was never actually paid off?

    I guess I didn’t like the movie that much because my main memory is vaguely enjoying it while also consistently rewriting it in my head into a movie I would much rather be watching.

    Also, you should check out this director. He was supposed to direct this movie 5 years before he did. But then his son had some type of horrible accident or rare disease that took him away from Hollywood. The producer, head of Screen Gems, kept the project in development and waited years and years to make it until the director’s life stabilized…and then it came out and was actually a pretty sizable hit. There was even a sequel script commissioned.

  12. Here’s a pretty good LA Times article about the subject. It’s probably a better story than the movie, since I remembered almost every detail of this article and nothing from the feature.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/25/entertainment/la-et-takers-20100825

  13. I saw this in a crowded theater opening night and I remember the theater full of girls screaming in delight and pleasure every time Chris Brown appeared on screen. Fo realz.

  14. The Original... Paul

    September 12th, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Chris – really? I thought most of the guy’s fans were the misogynist crowd. Not actual, y’know, women.

    Maybe you mistook the tone and they were actually screaming in horror?

  15. If I were in Chris’ theater that night, I would have burst out laughing at his death scene a la DeNiro in CAPE FEAR.

  16. I totally applauded his death scene.

  17. New TEXAS CHAINSAW trailer is out.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/texas-chainsaw-3d,84938/

    Don’t bother watching it, though. Just close your eyes and picture the most generic horror trailer you’ve ever seen, then add Trey Songz. Boom. You’ve just put more thought into it than the filmmakers did.

  18. This was made long before AVATAR and STAR TREK came out, no? May have been released after. Original title was BONE DEEP. Never seen it, not going to, seems typical of Screen Gems’ “urban” motif.

  19. Dammit. At least Texas Chainsaw 3D looks slightly less shit than that shitty remake that Marcus Nispel made that doesn’t exist.

    Still, I wanted to see Leatherface run through the city streets cutting up unsuspecting motorists. You know, Jurassic Park 2 style. So much for giving us anything new.

  20. yeah, that TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D trailer looks ridiculously perfunctory and bland

    I wasn’t expecting a good movie, but I was expecting them to put some kind of twist on the series, instead it’s a typical “young people go to a house and get killed” movie that’s been done over 9000 times and now after Cabin in The Woods looks even more lazy than usual

  21. Yeah, I wish it looked more part 2 crazy, since it’s definitely not part 1 artful. Then again, it not being a remake makes it not bother me as much. And Bill Moseley is in it. I’m afraid I gotta see it. You with me, Franchise Fred? (I made up a nickname for Fred, just go with it.)

  22. The Original... Paul

    September 16th, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Vern – are we really asking you to put yourself through that? I think the Geneva Convention has some very specific rules against it…

  23. I might have to make an exception for remake franchises. Once you start over it’s like you’ve given up.

    I’ll see TCM3D for work but I’d rather see McConaughey and Zellweger return for TCM5.

  24. TCM 2 is the only TCM I like. But I fuckin’ LOVE it.

  25. Trying to change my posting name to Franchise Fred.

  26. One reason why I’m open to this 3D Chainsaw, even though it doesn’t look very good, is that it is NOT a sequel to the remake. The rights went to a different production company, who decided to make a direct sequel only to the original Tobe Hooper film. Although this is a shame in that it ignores the events of 1 (one) masterpiece (part 2)*, I just love the bold faced diss of Platinum Dunes. Yeah, you rebooted it, and we unbooted you. In 3D.

    *At least that’s what they’re saying, but they do seem to use the last name “Sawyer,” which is a corny joke from part 2.

  27. Woah. Unboots. Vern, you just invented a new subgenre. I guess Universal Soldier: Regeneration is another Unboot. And American Reunion. Any others? Friday the 13th Part 6? Halloween 4? Jason X?

  28. When Sam Raimi makes Evil Dead IV after his own remake? Never Say Never Again? Dumb and Dumber To. Fast & Furious?

  29. I just want to buy that Takers poster so I can draw little fancy mustaches on everyone.

  30. Except for Idris Elba, of course.

  31. Late showing of TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D tonight. I just rewatched Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece 1974 THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, so I’m pumped. And pumped for disappointment.

    Just imdb’d the new movie
    (which has Tobe Hooper’s approval Tobe Hooper’s accountant’s approval)
    to see if the director or writers have done anything special, anything filmatisitcally noteworthy to listen/look for as an influence tonight. Nope.

    I checked out the cinematographer’s résumé. Ouch. This Anastas Michos person has directed the photography of a few of the worst, least inspired movies of the past 14 years.

    Oh well, I’m optimistic nonetheless, and I promise not to discuss it again until the Vern post, hopefully this weekend.

  32. Wait, so you’re too much of a pansy to let me give you a copy of THE MUTILATOR because you’re not into unmitigated gorefests but you’ll pay your own money to support TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D: THE WORD “MASSACRE” IS TOO HARD FOR OUR TARGET AUDIENCE TO TWEET TO EACH DURING THE MOVIE?

  33. I’m a bad person.

  34. Majestyk: Maybe they omitted “MASSACRE” because they’ve kept the body-count low and and don’t want to be accused of false advertising.

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