August 26, 2010

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Takers (PG-13)
A careful crew of robbers attempts to pull off a hastily planned heist in Takers, a drowsy little action movie. Gordon (Idris Elba), John (Paul Walker), brothers Jake (Michael Early) and Jesse (Chris Brown), and A.J. (Hayden Christensen) are all part of a crew that robs a bank and then gets away thanks to carefully choreographed use of security cameras, exit strategies and the like. On the same day that they’re pulling off the robbery and walking away with a few million, former crewmember Ghost (Tip “T.I.” Harris) is getting out of jail for an earlier job they pulled. He shows up at the post-robbery celebration party to reconnect with his buddies and to present a new job. But the men have some reasons not to trust him. He didn’t roll on them but he doesn’t have a clean record anymore. And, in the time that he’s been in jail, Ghost’s former-girlfriend Rachel (Zoe Saldana) has started dating Jake. But his plan, involving the heist of an armored car, seems just too good to pass up.
One of the reasons the group normally doesn’t take jobs so close together, though, is that after one bank robbery involving explosives and elaborate getaways, people are paying attention. People like police detective Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez). As Jack investigates the bank robbery, he finds hints that might lead him to the next job.
The movie sets up parallel storylines, one led by Gordon readying for the next job and one led by Jack, seeking the bank robbers. Gordon also has personal problems — a sister (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who can’t seem to make it through rehab — as does Jack (a divorce that has turned him into a weekend dad to his young daughter). And there’s some other police stuff, some criminal stuff about the Russians — there is actually a lot of plot here but the movie keeps it all moving in an orderly fashion. Maybe a little too orderly. There are no twists, no turns and very little in the way of excitement. You are not kept guessing, you are told exactly what is happening the entire time — and this might work well if speed and tension were the drivers, if you were constantly wondering if the robbers would strike again before the cops caught up to them. But the movie doesn’t set up that kind of anxiety, it doesn’t create the nervous energy that could keep you on the edge of your seat even if you kind of know where everything is going. There is no energy, there is no electricity — there is only a story told ploddingly that ends without ever getting exciting, even when characters are in a standoff or shootout or other situation that would seem inherently exciting but simply isn’t.

This suggests that maybe some combination of more dynamic camera work or a more exciting approach to editing could have infused this movie with a little of the electricity it lacks. As it is, it’s more of a sleepy shrug and a short fizzle. C-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, a sexual situation/partial nudity and some language. Directed by John Luessenhop and written by Luessenhop, Avery Duff, Peter Allen and Gabriel Casseus, Takers is an hour and 47 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Sony Pictures.