Heist movies are a dime a dozen, so anything new arriving on the scene needs to be damn good to garner anything but the most cursory of glances. Takers is unfortunately a familiar retread of the same well-worn furrows which is by no means awful but is simply derivative, unchallenging and will be forgotten by this time next year.
The crew involved in this particular criminal escapade are leader of the pack Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba), dashing pretty boy John (Paul Walker), slick hat-wearing musician AJ (Hayden Christensen), club owning Jake (Michael Ealy) and his younger brother Jesse (Chris Brown).
After pulling their latest sophisticated robbery, they’re enjoying a well-earned break. But when ex-member Ghost (T.I. Harris) is released from prison, he immediately approaches them with a job to raid an armoured car, which could potentially be their biggest haul yet. Hot on the team’s heels are dogged cop duo Welles and Hernandez (Matt Dillon and Eddie Hatcher), who have their own set of problems to worry about without a raid to foil.
By and large the performances are fine but nothing to write home about. Idris Elba could do this kind of role in his sleep, comfortably being the best thing about the movie. Matt Dillon tries hard as world-weary cop Welles – Dillon plays a police officer so regularly these days (most recently Armoured and Crash) that he may as well not bother taking his uniform off between movies. Even Hayden Christensen as AJ is surprisingly adequate (a miracle by his usually expressionless standards).
John Luessenhop’s direction is also decent with shoot outs and chases being handled with reasonable competence, if not with flair. There are one or two stand out scenes, including a free running chase scene with Chris Brown, a fire fight in a hotel room and the inventive collapse and destruction of a whole section of a busy LA intersection.
Unfortunately, beyond some of the impressive set-pieces, there’s little else to recommend Takers. There are too many characters and so any background is stretched painfully thin – we know nothing about Hayden Christiansen’s character except he wears a hat (presumably to distinguish him from Paul Walker who looks similar); we’re supposed to empathise with Jennings because he has a crack-head sister and we’re supposed to care about Jake’s relationship with Lilli (a criminally underused Zoe Saldana).
It’s also stuffed with a hefty dose of cheese – a scene in which the team walks away from an exploding helicopter is particularly groan-worthy. Cool guys don’t look at explosions indeed.
Takers is by no means awful. It’s competently acted and directed but it’s hard to be filled with enthusiasm for a film which has gone where so many others have gone before.