In light of the recent sudden and sad passing of Paul Walker, I decided to go back and post a review of Takers, I movie I really enjoyed, in part as tribute to him, and in part to remind you that it existed (you had probably forgotten). The Fast and Furious franchise is awesome, and I love it – but Takers got a little overlooked, for several good reasons.
It’s not that great (I said I enjoyed it, not that it is good, that's always an important piece to clarify), and the release was delayed for almost a year which may or may not have had something to do with trying to avoid negative public pushback after Chris Brown and T.I.’s legal troubles. In any case, I found it very entertaining, so perhaps you can rent it and see what you think.
Takers was directed by John Luessenhop, who had previously done Lockdown in 2000, so not a ton of experience. The story centers around a crew of bank robbers, who pull one major heist a year, and have been living the easy life as millionaires. They have a huge plan in place for their next job, which they pull off, only to have their plans compromised by the return of a member who used to be with their crew, but did some time. He demands that they pull another job, after all, he’s been in prison, and didn’t rat on any of them. Since a driven detective was hot on their heels after their last job, he closes in on the crew as they prep the new one.
That’s a pretty basic heist-movie plot, nothing you haven’t seen before. What I find entertaining is the cast of this movie
- Idris Elba plays the crew lead, Gordon. He gets to use his own British accent (even though I liked The Losers – his American accent will go in and out on you). Gordon is all about laying low between jobs, after all, he’s got his junkie sister to try to take care of (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Elba plays this role perfectly, absolutely confident in the lead, but cautious in execution.
- Paul Walker plays John Rahway, who seems to be the second of the crew. His is another quietly confident performance, a bit jittery on seeing the return of their ex-crew member, and wanting to profit, but worried about what will happen. Also – he does walk naked into a pool – and whether that was him or a butt double, it’s a great shot – key to the plot, you know.
- Michael Ealy plays Jake Attica. He’s level-minded, owning and running a restaurant/club where the crew hangs out. Ealy is stunning, there is no way around that (actually most of this cast is really good looking). His performance in this flick is good – again, quietly confident, seeing as how he has to try to keep his younger brother in line.
- Chris Brown plays that younger brother, Jesse, and while he’s got plenty of trouble in real life, he’s decent in this movie. Of course, he does play an irritating hot-head, so who knows if he has any acting talent, he is basically playing himself. He does get to show off some new parkour skills – so there’s that.
- Hayden Christensen plays A.J. with about as much range as you expect from him. Again, he may not be that great an actor, but he is pretty fun in this. Plus, he wears a sassy hat almost the entire time and does his own piano playing in a wife beater to show off his physique (put a shirt back on, you're in movie with Idris Elba, you can't compete with that!) and what I am hoping are terrible fake tattoos - if they're real, they are even more terrible. He’s that stereotypical piano-playing member of the crew. And spoilers, don’t get too attached to his character. Just enjoy him swinging that baseball bat while you can.
- Tip T.I. Harris plays Ghost – the member who is released from prison and searches out his old crew. Only to find that his girl is now with Jake, and the crew doesn’t really seem to have missed him. He tries to convince everyone that he bears them no ill will, and has brought them this huge job as a show of good faith. Not everyone trusts him right away, except for Jesse, which should show you how good an idea that is. Again, I think T.I. is just playing T.I., so he may not be that great an actor, but he wears some nifty suits. Get him a dialect coach (I cannot understand you with all that Atlanta in your speech!), and he may be good in a few years.
- Zoe Saldana plays the girl that was with Ghost and is now with Jake, she really traded up in my opinion. There’s not much for her to do – again, see The Losers if you want more action from her, or Columbiana. She’s basically just ‘the chick’ in this very dude-heavy movie.
- Matt Dillon plays the cop after the crew, Jack Welles. He’s spiraling out of control, so that the only thing he can focus on is catching this crew before they pull their next job. His life is such mess that he chases criminals with his daughter in the car, something the criminals point out to him later is terrible parenting. He also has to try to corral his young partner, who may or may not have issues of his own.
- The fantastic Jay Hernandez plays that younger partner (see Torque – if you haven’t). He’s struggling as well, trying to provide for his wife and new baby. He seems to be the partner who has everything together, but, looks can be deceiving!
The movie has lots of action, and some fun group scenes, and is unapologetically unoriginal. The chemistry of the cast is what makes it entertaining, and while none of them are hugely talented (like I said, most of them went with the same ‘quietly confident’ mode), they are fun to watch, and they look great – well most of them anyway (sorry, T.I., besides I really only understand about half of what you say). Check it out, it’s some fun mindless entertainment!
8 out of 10 – Gained points for Idris using his real accent, but lost points for his sister never straightening out, no matter how much he helps her. Gained points for Hayden’s hat and Chris’s parkour, but then lost points for the cop bringing his daughter investigating. Dude, really, just take her home!
Bonus Video 1: The Losers – from the same year, based on a graphic novel – similar, but different, and tons of fun.
Bonus Video 2: Torque, the pairing to the Fast and Furious movies
Bonus Video 3: Fast and Furious - the fourth one. Seriously, 1, 4, 5, and 6 are amazing fun movies, and 7 comes out next year - I cannot wait.
Bonus Video 3: Takers Cast Interviews