Film Reviews

TAKERS

By • Aug 27th, 2010 •

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Three terrific over-the-top scenes and the actors’ easy camaraderie make this hair-raising and thrilling.

They are a well-seasoned and closely-knit gang of very rich bank robbers: Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba), John Rahway (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen), Jake Attica (Michael Ealy) and Jesse Attica (Chris Brown).

When one of their own, who took the rap and never ratted-out the others, Ghost (T.I.), is released early from prison, the “Takers” are reluctant to bring him back into the fold. There was a muddled explanation for their hostile reaction to his sudden arrival – though Ghost took the fall and a bullet, maybe he tripped and fell during the getaway? But Ghost got a plan for a huge payday heist, so they take him in.

After the “Takers” bold and stunning bank robbery, detectives Jack Welles (Matt Dillion) and Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) are put on the case. Welles hasn’t slept in ten years and Hatcher has a cancer-ridden child. They don’t do paperwork and Welles has been on the job too long to follow the playbook. He believes in beating up suspects and then asking questions.

Starved to perfection and with his catwalk prance down pat, Ghost is bitter. Even though his cut from a 2004 bank heist has been making interest in the Cayman Islands, Ghost is resentful that the guys never visited him in prison and his girlfriend Rachel (Zoe Saldana), has cruelly moved on to another member of the gang.

So Ghost gets in bed with Russian gangsters. While all the “Takers” are dressed in bespoke suits, the Russians are dirty, meth-head goons.

You might think heist movies like TAKERS are unrealistic fantasies without regard for the boundaries of logic and the limitations of SUVs. Have you ever seen a heist movie where the guys have to stop for a red light?

However, let’s mention just one case: In 1990, two guys broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer (there are only thirty-four Vermeer paintings) three Rembrandts, and five Degas. Even with a $5 million reward, not a single masterpiece – worth as much as $500 million – has been recovered. Was this really the work of just two guys with a love of art?

A platoon of writers, Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, director John Luessenhop and Avery Duff, deliver a fast, high-paced thrill ride. Director Luessenhop gives three show-stopping extravaganzas: a chase scene that goes on so long, you start cheering for the thief – he deserves to escape; a heist that is executed with “shock and awe” and a gun battle that ranks at the top of the heap – until, that is, MACHETE opens.

The cast is all first-rate with Elba and T.I. at the forefront. My favorite, the under-appreciated Paul Walker, is always pitch-perfect. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays Elba’s drug addicted sister, who has only one line of dialogue she repeats over and over again – “I want to go home.” Why Elba’s Gordon Jennings didn’t put her on a plane straightaway is beyond me.

Special acknowledgement must go to the stuntmen, the editor (Armen Minasian) and the ambitious cinematographer, Michael Barrett. See this for the fabulous chase scene!

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