With a mediocre summer for movies almost over, I was looking for one last film with a good cast. Having a good cast can make a film better than its script, and it can also save a movie from poor material (ie. The Expendables). The Takers falls into the latter category, with a cast of mainly up-and-coming or younger actors. Personally, I'm a sucker for the heist genre, and having a stacked cast makes it easier to watch when I see holes in the story. Maybe it's because heist movies are so hard to pull off correctly and believably, that you just need a good team behind the premise to make it work.
The film follows a very smart and precise crew of bank robbers in L.A. who only pull a job every year or two to avoid being caught. Ghost, a former crew member played by T.I., is released from prison and wants to re-join his former team for one big score. The crew of "takers", fresh off a recent job and unsure they can trust their former colleague, reluctantly agree to take this new job. With a persistent cop played by Matt Dillon on their trail and the uncertainty of Ghost's true intentions on everyone's mind, this normally smooth-running crew gets put in some difficult situations.
Because the heist genre has been done to death every way possible, it's up to the cast to make the movie work. The always cool Idris Elba is the team leader and idea man. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a whole lot to work with for being the lead. A sometimes cocky Paul Walker is kind of second in command of the crew, and he brings his Fast and Furious one-liners with him. Dillon plays a very good overworked LAPD detective, but when he is trying to find the takers, he finds the smallest clue and jumps to the biggest conclusion, making it very unbelievable. Some of the best stuff is from the younger cast like T.I., who adds to his acting resume with a larger and ironic role -- ironic because both T.I. and his character Ghost were just released from prison. Being a Star Wars geek, I was glad to see Hayden Christensen didn't forget his lightsaber training in a great scene where he takes on three guys with only a piece of wood.
This film has its ups and downs like any other movie, but with really only two main story arcs, it doesn't flow as easily as it should. Since most of the film's high-paced action scenes come at the beginning and in the middle of the film, it has its climax way too early. A chase scene with Chris Brown's character running on foot is a stand-out part of the film, even if it looks like Jackie Chan was his stunt double for half of it, but then the film starts to run out of gas. It could have something to do with the fact the movie was filmed back 2008 and maybe needed some changes before its release. The pushed-back release was due to T.I.'s one year stint in prison, and delayed even further by Chris Brown's abuse of Rihanna. You may have noticed Brown's name was left of the majority of the promotional material for the film. However, they did get one thing right during the films' repeated delays: they changed the title. It was originally called Bone Deep.
Who knows, if it kept that title it may have gotten lost in the 'Adult' film section at your local video store.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.