Thursday, December 2, 2010

TAKERS (2010) - Plagiarizing Better Movies 101

I'll be completely honest and just state the truth: I was convinced this movie would be a piece of crap from the minute I saw the trailer a few months back. Everything I read or heard about the premise of John Luessenhop's movie sounded too close for comfort to one of my favorite movies of all time and a true crime film classic, Michael Mann's Heat. I skipped out on watching it in theaters, and figured I'd scope it out later DVD. Well, the day arrived and I decided to approach the movie with an open mind, however hard that would be. I took comfort in the fact that Matt Dillon and Idris Elba, who did such an awesome job as Stringer Bell in The Wire, were in this. It couldn't be all that bad, now could it?

Paul Walker and T.I. in the same movie?!? Quick, get the Oscars ready...
The opening scenes introduce the crew of robbers as they pull off a quick orchestrated bank heist in downtown Los Angeles. Gordon (Idris Elba), John (Paul Walker), Jake (Michael Ealy) and Jesse (Chris Brown) don ski masks, grab assault rifles and make off with a good haul of cash, while A.J. (Hayden Christensen) steals a news helicopter to make their escape. High fives all around and a obligatory slow-motion explosion of the helicopter as the team walks off in different directions. And there is our crew of stylish, suave group of would be criminal masterminds.

While Gordon and his boys are off blowing their cash on girly drinks at a nightclub, detective Jack Wells (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie (Jay Hernandez) are busy beating the daylights out of drug dealers somewhere across the city. Jack, as we soon find out, is a no-frills cop with an eye for detail and a troubled family life. Jack and Eddie are assigned to investigate the bank robbery, and are initially stumped. At the same time, we see a guy named Ghost (T.I.) being released from jail and immediately looking to reunite with Gordon and his former crew.

Cool guys don't look at explosions.
Ghost joins the rest of the "takers" at the club, where he proposes a new job that offers a ton of cash, but warns them that they'll be on a tight schedule. His plan is to rob an armored truck loaded with millions of dollars in plain daylight with less than a week to prepare, thanks to inside information given to him by a Russian mob connection. The crew reluctantly agrees to take on the new heist, although some of the guys don't trust Ghost, especially Jake, who has just proposed to Ghost's ex girlfriend.

As the team prepares themselves for the job, the detectives are hard at work trying to solve the first robbery and looking for leads. After a routine bust, Jake and Eddie find evidence linking Ghost to the Russian mob. Jake tails Ghost and eventually sees him meet with Gordon and Jesse. As Jake continues to get closer to solving the case, the day of the heist arrives and ultimately results in a hectic web of betrayal, some obvious twists, and a few genuinely interesting action set pieces.

Matt Dillon's pimp hand is feeling mighty strong these days.
Before I proceed to vent out my frustrations with what could have been a decent heist movie, I'll blurt out the good to be found in this flick. There's a very cool foot chase between the two detectives and Chris Brown's character, which lasts an eternity and has some parkour moves a la Casino Royale's opening credits and is generally exhilarating. Idris Elba did not disappoint and was the highlight of the movie with a good performance limited only by this terrible script. Matt Dillon held his own as well, but that's about as far as it gets. On to the problematic...
Let's all chill together at da club after committing some felonies, yo.
Chris Brown and T.I. cannot act to save their life. Brown is atrocious. This should come as no surprise seeing as how Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, who are also terrible, are part of this cast. The editing is dizzying and the action suffers from the schizophrenic camera. One promising shoot out scene is ruined by some excessive slow-motion and an even worse soundtrack choice. Speaking of choices, someone ought to bitch slap the guy behind this script. It's as if he decided to one day gather every possible action movie cliche and write a needlessly complex and uninspired plot around them. What's worse, there are almost whole sections of dialogue, characters, and even action scenes lifted from other movies.

The armored car robbery plays out like a straight rip off of the much more exciting finale in The Italian Job. Matt Dillon's detective investigating the robbery is divorced and having trouble being a good father to his daughter, just like Al Pacino's character in Heat. At the scene of the initial robbery, Jake comments on the technical proficiency of the robbers and their use of shaped charges and C4... wait for it... just as Pacino does in Heat. The lines sound almost exactly the same. The opening bank robbery is eerily similar to the Heat's famous bank robbery, even down to the guns the characters use, their outfits and the stuff they say.

I mean, even the blueish hue to the scenes is blatantly lifted from Mann's movie. Except that in Heat, it fit the minimalist, loner characterization of De Niro's role and the bleak portrayal of a decadent Los Angeles, while the guys in Takers hit up a nightclub after their heist and hook up with chicks, smoke cigars and sip scotch like a scene out of Jersey Shore. The only thing missing was for DJ Pauly D to make a cameo appearance and start bumping some beats. All flash and absolutely no dash.

Sadly, this would only have improved this disaster of a movie.
I vainly held hope that it would turn out to be decent, and it crashed and burned.Takers is shamelessly derivative to a fault and has very little going for it. It's a dumbed down, MTV version of better films that deserves to be shown on basic cable and nothing else. Wooden cast (save for Elba and Dillon), wooden story, and only one or two passable action scenes to keep you interested. If you're in the mood for a good heist/crime drama, watch The Town, or even better, rent or stream Heat. Give this piece of crap a wide berth.

TL;DR - A rip off of better crime movies, but with a bad cast, bad writing and no shame whatsoever. Yes, I mad. - 2/10


  1. DJ PAULY D! *airhorns*

    I could tell this sucked and I didn't even watch it. T.I.P. comin live from the V.I.P

  2. Didn't waste the bandwidth. Thanks for confirming that was the right call.

  3. Heat is a dope movie, of course someone tried to rip it off.

  4. wow will avoid this and just watch oceans 11 or something instead

  5. Thank god I didn't rent this. I was tempted, but like you...I knew it was going to suck. I just didn't know how bad.

  6. good heads up. I can't believe Hollywood spends so much to turn out so many bad movies. Would any other industry tolerate that failure rate?

  7. god, this sounds pretty terrible. thanks for saving me 2 hours of my life

  8. I don't know why...but I feel like watching HEAT now.