August 27, 2010 in Features

Movie review: ‘Takers’ merely formulaic

Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel
 

There’s a shootout in “Takers” that reaches far beyond the movie’s generic heist picture storyline and generic one-note performances.

It’s set in a hotel suite, and it is a symphony of shotgun shells, a tarantella of TEC-9s – bullets spitting, furniture exploding in clouds of padding, stuffing and splinters.

Editor Armen Minasian (“Fearless,” “I, Robot”) cut this mayhem as if he were creating his own “Scarface” moment, a heart-stopping fury of action, sound, bodies and bloodbursts.

He lifts, if only momentarily, a formula picture into something more than just cool actors posing and talking tough.

Idris Elba is Gordon, the suave, tall and Caribbean-accented leader of the pack. You can tell he’s the leader because he’s the chap who utters the movie’s tag line.

“We’re takers, gents,” he says. “That’s what we do for a living.”

The five of them “take” banks. They plan a job to death, spend-spend-spend on gear and coolly make their getaway.

Paul Walker is Rahway, the high-living marksman and driver. Jake (Michael Ealy) is the cautious one, fretting over how they invest their ill-gotten gains.

Chris Brown is Jesse, his brother, cocky, young, gullible. Hayden Christensen is A.J., all about the technology and the getaway.

Jake has a guilty conscience; he stole a former gang member’s girl (Zoe Saldana, barely in this) when the guy, “Ghost” (Tip “T.I.” Harris), went to prison.

And an overzealous cop (Matt Dillon) with a cloud over his head is getting wise to the operation.

It’s not a good time for Ghost to get out of prison, propose a new job and get the gang into bed with a bunch of Russians.

The actors are given stock types to play, and Elba and Dillon, at least, can do a little with that. Others, particularly Harris, slide into monotony – flatly playing the same tone, the same pitch – in all their scenes.

But director John Luessenhop (“Lockdown”) jazzes things up, giving us death in extreme close-up and in-your-face action that turns the few twists this predictable tale takes into surprises.

And Minasian, digitally snip-snipping away, transforms the action beats into memorable moments that make “Takers” look like a B-list “Heat,” and make you wish they’d been set pieces in a much better film.


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