Review: Lazy & Hollow 'Takers' is a Patchwork of Stolen Ideas
by Jeremy Kirk
August 26, 2010
Heat. True Romance. The Italian Job. District B13. All are fine films in their own right. They are also all films that get heavily ripped off by Takers, a new film about bank robbers, the cops who try to track them down, and the empty, empty world they all apparently live in. A film without character or substance, it is forced time and time again to fall back on its style for something, anything to shine through the murky waters created by all the derivation. Not even that is slick or fresh enough, and the explosion caused by all the shakiness begins on frame one and doesn't end until the credits roll. It's okay, though. It's an explosion without heat. That's why it's so easy to walk away from in slow motion.
The team of bank robbers at the center of Takers is made up of Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen. The cops coming after them are Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez. There are character connections strewn throughout. A couple of the robbers are brothers. Ealy's character has a relationship with Zoe Saldana. Elba's sister is in rehab. Dillon and Hernandez's characters have their own respective problems, too.
It's hard to go into detail about it all, because, frankly, there's very little care put into anything. The relationship between Elba and his sister comes off as the only engaging fork found in this road of pointless dust. Much of that is helped by Elba and Marianne Jean-Baptiste who plays the sister.
Much of it is hindered, though, by the constant self-aware direction by John Luessenhop. The man simply cannot hold the camera still for five seconds. This goes for each scene and each and every shot of Takers alike. Within the shots he composes, even during scenes of down-time, where people are having civilized conversations (civility evidently running out of the world of Takers like gasoline in a post-apocalyptic film), nothing is steady. The camera is constantly jerking back and forth in an effort to create some kind of intensity. It doesn't work. If this is how the shots are composed during conversational scenes, you can only imagine the jerky nightmare that comes when the action heats up. That is, if you cant keep yourself from unintentionally laughing at the sight of Chris Brown performing parkour. Here's a hint. It's not really Chris Brown leaping and jumping between buildings, and you can tell.
The collaboration between Luessenhop and his editor, Armen Minasian, creates some of the most difficult scenes to follow, too. As the camera is batting around the room, trying to find an actor to focus on, we're constantly cutting and cutting and cutting to a different shot. It doesn't matter that we cut from a side shot of someone to a shot of that same person in 3/4 profile, there seems to be some kind of edict here that states we can't hold on the same shot for more than a heartbeat. There is a scene early in the film where T.I., playing a former member of the gang who has just been released from prison and wants his cut of the action (the only real sense of a focused narrative the film has), is addressing the crew. There is literally a cut after every line of dialogue spoken. It's unnerving. It's distracting. It is the worst case of self-aware editing seen in recent memory.
By the time the action decides it wants to kick in, we're completely removed from any idea of story, and we could not care less for any of these characters. The action just doesn't matter. More so, it's all very predictable. You know precisely when someone is going to walk into the room, how each and every gunfight is going to end, when each and every character in this stylized piece of action is going to bite their respective bullet. It ends up being sad that nothing original could have stemmed from a film that has some respectable talent in front of its camera.
Speaking of which, the acting in Takers, more precisely the acting from each performer in Takers, is exactly what you might expect from them. Luessenhop doesn't seem to have any magical skills as a director that is going to make Walker or Christensen any more believable. T.I. and Chris Brown stumble through their lines as if acting isn't their first profession. Elba and Dillon are perfectly fine here, but you know judging from the acting seen elsewhere in the room that all stemmed from what they brought to the table.
Takers is a film in need of an identity. The action is there conceptually. Even if the parkour chase scene comes out of nowhere and seems thrown in just because that's the "cool thing" now ("now" being two years ago when Takers was actually shot), there are ideas within the action that might have worked had we been given a director who knew how to shoot it.
Basically, all you really need to know about Takers comes in a very early scene. The robbers have just gotten away from a heist by commandeering a television news helicopter. They land thechopper up in the Hollywood Hills. They plant a bomb, walk away, and as the helicopter explodes close behind them, they don't even bother to turn and take notice of it. It's a slow motion shot we've seen 8562 times before. It's something films have even made fun of, films in very recent memory. It's lazy. It's dumb. It's headache-inducing. Kind of like Takers as a whole. It makes you angry at the people who conceptualized it as much as the people who decided to fund it. The people behind Takers steal so many ideas from other films, they make the bank robbers in the actual film look like amateurs.
Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 20 Comments
True the trailers for this film are really weak. Its sad to see how desperate these weak ass hollywood actors are for making money.
DaftPUNKFAN on Aug 26, 2010
I had a feeling it was a dud when I realized I'd been seeing trailers for it for what felt like 2 years. There was a point when I thought it would quietly be slipped out straight to DVD, but apparently not.
jbaker475 on Aug 26, 2010
whats wrong with you people!!?? takers is one of the greatest action films of all time i have ever seen,the cast was fantastic even the story in the movie.i would like to see you fools do better than this.10 out of 10 for me,i also thought it was on par with the dark knight too
Spider94 on Aug 26, 2010
Lame Movie! TI and Chris Brown, hahahaha! Did MTV direct this?
McWilly on Aug 26, 2010
hmm maybe one to miss paying to see in a theatre then... @1 - sure thats a valid point, but perhaps we should give them the benefit of doubt, that they are working a movie to get paid (as its their job) and the direction/production/quality of the film still ultimately ends up in the hands of the director/editors/producers... sure they may/may not have quality acting skills, but the guy behind the lens should have some skills in being able to discern a re-take/re-shoot if need be. I would probably still check this out just for some mindless entertainment though.. I'm impartial to movies good or bad.. if this is as crud as it sounds, then I'm sure I'll get a laugh out of it regardless!
ek on Aug 26, 2010
Well, who said T.I. and Chris Brown could act? Why do rappers and musicians always try to act? Half of them can't! Hayden should concentrate on a sequel to Jumper than this OBVIOUS unoriginal piece of taint! At least Jumper was cool to WATCH. He acts better than he did as Anakin. My gal wants to see this pos and I keep telling her it's going to SUCK but we always see movies I wanna see so unfortunately it's my turn. God help me.
JudasBarron on Aug 26, 2010
I've seen the movie last weekend at screening. It's not as bad as this writer makes it out to be. Believe it. It's actually a decent movie better then 80% of the heist films that have come out the past 2-3 years. Don't base it off of one person. See it for yourself and you'll be really surprised. It was enjoyable and actually had me at the edge of my seat.
CK on Aug 26, 2010
Well, #5, it may be their job, but when you have rap artists and such as the "cast" of a full length film, once can't help but smell desperation. It's there jobs yes, but should we take this kind of nonsense seriously?
Eli on Aug 26, 2010
How were Walker and Chrsitensen?
Xerxex on Aug 26, 2010
i watched it out of a failed bet *no lie* and to laugh at Chris Brown and him beating people *as such the age old you tube jokes you see* but unfortunately i got more people telling me to be quiet when i was laughing at the failed Parkour *i saw white hands*...i liked the popcorn that day, fresh made....
Jericho on Aug 26, 2010
take a guess xerxex, how were their past performances? what they suffer from cant be fixed with acting classes.. and walkers 1o times the actor christensen is..
harrison on Aug 26, 2010
Seriously #3 in "par with the dark knight " aaaaaah no no no don't compare legends with weak sauce fools who think they can act because they rap, we have yet to see a film as good as dark knight maybe Takers has been the only other action movie you've seen, i bet if you see italian job, heat, casino, or any other good action film then you would probably wet yourself
DaftPUNKFAN on Aug 27, 2010
#3 the most obvious troll i've ever seen.
Get_rad64 on Aug 27, 2010
I liked the bobbing heads. Apart from that. Oh wait that was just the poster. It looks mince. I'd like to see a film with all those actors just hanging out at Chris Browns house and he's showing them dance moves and they keep joking around trying to get him to beat them up like Rihanna. Then Rihanna appears and turns into a Piranha and it all goes Keraaaaazzzyeeeeeee.
Crapola on Aug 27, 2010
My bet is that when everyone signed on 2 yrs ago things were looking waaaaaay better. Chris Brown was on Top of R&B, TI was way more popular, the Wire just finished up, Hayden had moderate success with Jumper, Zoe was done filming avatar, Walker had just signed on for fast-er & furious-er... Looked like a good idea at the time for everyone. Since then, TI was at the grey bar hotel for weapons, Brown beat Rhianna's ass and too much time passed. IMO I think they tried for a Smokin aces / Oceans 11 with fresh faces and came up short.
Solo Calrissian on Aug 27, 2010
Just asking harrison, Walker can act but the guy picks some bad movies to be in. Running Scared was awesome. as for Christensen well I think he will find a role that surprises everyone...maybe. Solo Calrissian hit the nail on the head.
Xerxex on Aug 27, 2010
It's a very fun, cool movie--don't pay attention to this! BTW Edris Elba's character does turn and look as the helicopter explodes--u just have to watch carefully, something I think this reviewer didn't do!!
jpopsilno on Aug 27, 2010
WOW-a helicopter explodes? That must be so cool! yea, I did see it. It wasn't. Jeremy and Solo are right. It is a disaster. I love Idris Elba and have to admit T.I. was fun, but for the love of Pete I would not ever pay for this movie. And Walker is a great actor-crappy at picking movies or has horrible agent. And you would think with some talented music artists in there there may be an awesome song that is the result? Yup, there is...on the credits...and it's Kasabian.
allison on Aug 27, 2010
and who in the F*^& got paid to state that this was "this generation's Heat"??? are you F*&^$ING KIDDING ME!?! yes. of course it's this generation's Heat b/c it has 2 of the greatest actors ever that have never been onscreen together. get REAL! wasn't this movie already released and called "the Losers?" this belongs at the bottom of the movie theatre underneath the gum some schmoe stuck to the bottom of my seat
Mikel on Aug 27, 2010
Was the movie horrible, No! But was it anywhere near original...HELL NO! I kept waiting for the scene were Idris Elba would tell Paul Walker "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."lol And as far as the ending have Michael Ealy and Chris Brown ever heard of a back door? I mean c'mon, the movie was obviously shot for the sole purpose of being cut in a trailer.
.............. on Aug 29, 2010
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