From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Takers - C-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, a sexual situation/partial nudity and some language, 105 minutes

Entertaining, ridiculous "Takers" has a handsome cast, little else

“Takers” reminds of a line in the turgid Barry Manilow ballad “Mandy”: “You came and you gave without takin’” except the movie comes and takes without giving much. Filled with a handsome, eye-candy cast and peppered with a couple of decent action set-pieces, the mildly enjoyable but ridiculous heist drama is as subtle as any Manilow song.

“Takers” is about a group of professional bank robbers in Los Angeles: Michael Ealy, Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown and Paul Walker who specialize in spectacular robberies that has made them very wealthy. One of their former colleagues, the smooth-talking and fresh out of jail Ghost (rapper T.I.) talks them into a job with a big payday, though he’s likely to have something up his sleeve. Hot on their trail are two L.A. detectives with issues of their own (Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez), who threaten to get in the way of their huge score.

Modestly entertaining, if overblown, “Takers” has a swift, masculine energy to it, particularly in its tense opening chapters, but it falls apart in a preposterous, laughable climax that veers off in too many directions. The film loses focus under an unoriginal script that rips off everything from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to DePalma’s “Scarface.”

The biggest asset to “Takers” is its good-looking cast, including Elba (“Obesessed”), Walker, Christensen, Ealy and Dillon, but that is one of its chief flaws too. The messy, unfocused script attempts to give them equal footing but none of the actors genuinely grounds the film.

Dillon comes the closest to giving the film some soul, a decent actor stuck in a one-note role; Elba is hampered by an unnecessary subplot (and wastes a terrific character actress in “Without a Trace’s” Marianne Jean-Baptiste); Walker, one of cinema’s best-looking worst actors, is (unsurprisingly) only in the film for his looks, while the whiny Christensen remains one of the most annoying actors on the planet (his exit is an unintentional hoot – particularly his facial expression).

Oh, and "Takers" also features singer Chris Brown (yes, that Chris Brown) in a charming but small role alongside the handsomely bland Ealy (their exit, much like Christensen’s, provokes unintentional laughter) while rapper T.I. (who also co-produced) has the most fun in a good/bad guy role that is seemingly an extension of his rapper persona. Unfortunately, it wastes the lovely Zoe Saldana from “Avatar” in a blink-and-you-miss her role.

“Takers” big climax is enjoyable enough but a letdown compared to Brown’s big scene, an extended, intense foot chase with him and Dillon that immediately follows, when Brown seemingly gets hit by every car imaginable and still remains standing.

All said, the film starts out well and ends up a bit of a mess, particularly in its final moments, raising more questions than answers. With a good-looking cast and some hefty explosions, the mediocre “Takers” may qualify as guilty-pleasure, trashy entertainment, but a great movie it isn’t.