TAKERS - It Grabs You From Start To End
TAKERS (crime thriller)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Tip "T.I." Harris, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Zoe Saldana
Director: John Luessenhop
Script: Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, John Luessenhop and Avery Duff
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Takers is a taut crime thriller that gives us both sides of the story - from the cops' as well as the robbers' points of view. This technique by director John Luessenhop may slow down the pace somewhat, but the background stories and sub-plots are tensed and riveting enough to keep plot build-up simmering till we get to the climax.
SYNOPSIS: The Takers are five bank robbers, John (Paul Walker), Gordon (Idris Elba), A.J. (Hayden Christensen) and brothers Jesse (Chris Brown) and Jake (Michael Ealy). They specialise in elaborate schemes that involve high pay-offs. The stakes go up when a former accomplice, Ghost (Tip 'T.I.' Harris), is released from prison and comes up with a plan for a heist on an armoured car. With a US$25 million loot up for grabs, the plan is too attractive to refuse even if they are suspicious of Ghost.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles detectives Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) are trying to track down the gang. However, with Internal Affairs breathing down Jack's neck, it looks like they may be taken off the case before he can make the bust.
HITS AND MISSES: Takers reminds me of the action in the Hong Kong classic, Infernal Affairs, or its 2006 Hollywood remake, The Departed. Its criss-crossing to and from both sides of the law provides engrossing insights into the main characters and help us to understand them, if not to root for them. Among the outstanding portrayals is Dillon's Jack Welles, a cop who is so engrossed in his work that he even foregoes his outing with his daughter to stakeout a suspect. His partner, Eddie, represents the more down-to-earth guy and they function well together.
The sequences of the gang's planning and exploits are more colourful in terms of action and eye candy, especially with Zoe Saldana (left, with Chris Brown) as a woman caught between to rivals. Saldana has only a few scenes here but she makes good use of them exuding sex appeal and mystery. Other complications on the side of the robbers involve Gordon's crack-head sister (played wonderfully by Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who is just out of rehab. There isn't a lot of action or car chases for the action fan but Luessenhop films the shoot-outs in such operatic slow-mo that it is like watching a music video.
THE LOWDOWN: It's riveting from start to finish.