Movie Review: Takers

A cast full of hip hop artistes, cardboard actors and a big budget makes a surprisingly enjoyable movie. Forget the plot holes or terrible clichés, you’re not in it for the story, you’re in it for the ride. Takers tells the story of a group of bank robbers who pull off extremely well-planned, high-profile heists- at least that’s what we’re supposed to think. Hot on their trail is Jack Welles (Matt Dillon), a police officer with problems of his own. Fresh out of jail, one of the group’s ex-members, Ghost (T.I.) proposes to them the job of a lifetime- an armored truck containing $12 million. It’s enough for them to stay out of crime forever, and start their lives anew.

When I first saw the trailer from this movie, I knew what to expect- explosions, car chases, gun fights, alcohol, women, and money. The movie has all that, and some more. Right from the get go, the action is on and lets up only for a few scenes in the movie. If you’re looking for an action movie, Takers will not disappoint you.

Heist movies have been done for a very long time now, and what I attracts me about these movies are the planning stages. Like The Italian Job, Oceans, Inception– the recruitment of the team, their specialized roles, and the master plan. Sadly, Takers has none of that. You don’t know what each member is good for, and their plan is as complicated as a math textbook- for kids in primary school. It’s a no-brainer movie.

One problem about movies with too many main characters is that not enough time is spent developing them, and with a movie where the ‘bad guys’ are the protagonists, you don’t feel any connection to them. The characters are rich and don’t look like they aren’t desperate for money. They’re not on the most wanted list (they pulled off all their jobs so well that nobody knows who they are) and they live comfortably. They lack any emotional aspects that allow the audience to connect with them. The only exception being Gordon (Idris Elba), with a half-assed sub-plot of his sister in rehab.

I think in movies like these, you either develop these sub-plots fully, or you don’t include them at all. It just makes the overall movie much weaker. There’s quite a number of story arcs that are left hanging or just felt like they were thrown in for good measure. Like Jack’s backstory- why is he trying so hard to catch the gang? There’s no explanation. I guess he’s just a diligent cop doing his job. The story about his day out with his daughter and his ex-wife (you don’t even see her in the movie) felt incomplete as well. Jack’s partner, Eddie (Jay Hernandez) also has some issues, again, only mentioned in dialog that felt like a half-court ball thrown during the final buzzer beater- there’s not enough time, let’s just shoot and hope for the best. I also didn’t like how they tied up some loose ends- one scene almost made me laugh out loud.

Those issues aside, Takers isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Most of the cast impressed me with their acting chops, and there weren’t any cringe-worthy moments. The story moves forward fluidly, despite being predictable it is entertaining. Don’t let the trailer fool you, these rap stars can act better than you think (I guess starring in music videos does help) and Matt Dillon hasn’t played a cop role like this since.. Crash. I guess that’s why he was chosen to play the cop. The star of the show was Idris Elba- I mean, who doesn’t like a black guy with an English accent? Exactly. Paul Walker does what he does best, and Hayden was surprisingly bearable- he’s come a long way since his days as Anakin Skywalker (and his fedora look should score him some points with the ladies as well).

Takers won’t be taking the place of your favorite heist movie, or be in the running for any Oscars next year, but it should keep adrenaline junkies happy in the meantime. I rate Takers 6/10.

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