Studio: Sony Pictures
US Rating: Rated R for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, a Sexual Situation/Partial Nudity and Some Language
Film Length: 107 Mins
Video: 1080P High Definition 16X9 - 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Review Date: January 17, 2011
“We're takers, gents. That's what we do for a living. We take”
There have been a number of heist movies over the last ten to fifteen years. The Ocean’s trilogy, The Italian Job, The Score, Heat, and The Town to name just a few, and each have been solidly entertaining with fine casts and good action. In that stead, Takers is right at home, though not as efficient or polished. Takers stands out for its superb cast of actors – not all blockbuster marquee names per se, but a wealth of rising, relatively unknown, and steady character actors nonetheless.
The Film: 3.5 out of 5
A crew of well-prepared and well-armed thieves performs a daring daylight heist of a high-tower bank, escaping through ingenious means, leaving the police – and lead detectives assigned to the case – stumped. Amidst their celebrations, a former colleague, nabbed during a robbery several years earlier, is paroled and offers a proposition of their biggest heist – and their biggest payday yet. Despite never having given up the names of his accomplices, the crews are distrustful of their former crewman, but agree to perform the risky job regardless. With only five days to prepare, the seasoned professionals are pushed to the limits of their skills and begin to feel some heat from the detectives investigating their last incredible heist.
Takersis really three storylines wrapped around a single plot with those storylines weaved around that plot; all roads leading to a single conclusion. The primary storyline is the professional thieves prepping for the big heist, the second involves the mystery and motives of the crew’s recently released from prison colleague, and the third is the perspective of the detectives investigating the modus operandi of the slick crew. The nature of Takers structure is both interesting and frustrating. The relatively ambitious technique should be lauded for what it attempts, but too often, especially during the first act, we are introduced to characters and elements with little context, throwing the audience off. This is an issue that Takers struggles to overcome.
The film is in essence a story of a crew performing one last dangerous heist. We must care about these characters to be invested in their success, and although effort is made to deepen some of the characters with personal elements, such as Jake Attica, played by Michael Eely proposing to his girl, or Gordon Cozier, played by Idris Alba dealing with his junkie sister, too many of the strands are unsatisfactorily pursued, nurtured, or where appropriate, concluded.
Takersis, however exciting, with quite effective action and heist sequences pumping adrenaline and delivering on the joy of watching a terrific cast at play. And the cast of Takers is a genuine draw, with Idris Alba as the crew leader, Paul Walker as the calm and collected John Rahway, Matt Dillon as Det. Jack Welles, and Jay Hernandez as Det. Hatcher. Also starring are Hayden Christianson (the Star Wars prequels), as an explosives and logistics expert, music artists Chris Brown as the Jesse Attica, and Tip “T.I.” Harris relatively effective as Ghost, the menace ghost from the crews’ past channeling some of his hip-hop persona.
Chris Brown is sadly the weak spot on the cast. Besides his off-screen violence against Rihanna woes working against his likeability, his wide-eyed and overly-youthful portrayal of Jesse ill-fits the rest of the cast and the level of maturity and skill required to pull of the heists. One exception to that criticism comes from an exciting chase sequence. While the most dangerous of the stunt work is clearly that of a gymnastically adroit individual, Chris Brown performs a healthy amount of his own stunts during the sequence and delivers in the action sequence surprisingly well. It is his handling of dialogue that presents the greatest challenge in this film.
Overall, Takers is an entertaining and exciting action film. Director John Luessenhop is clearly tipping his hat to Michael Mann’s Heat with his shooting style, employing the handheld camera style to place us inside the action and danger. The use of HDCAM SR (1080p/24) in the cinematographic process is also reminiscent of Mann’s styling.
Heist film’s rarely fail to entertain. They live and die on the quality of the cleverness of the heists, the deftness of the job, and the ability to surprise us. In this respect, Takers handles its business well enough to be enjoyed.
The Video: 4.5 out of 5
Takersis presentedin with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (the theatrical aspect ratio is listed as 2.35:1) The image is clean, with fine detail appropriate to the HD video filming technique (filmed using a Panavision Genesis HD Camera). Cinematographer Michael Barret (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang) provides a steely/muddy look to the color palette – with some green thrown in, which works nicely. Black levels are good, flesh tones pop, and light sources and daylight scenes feature some strong contrast, with the background daylight scenes being overexposed to contrast the foreground more deeply. Takers looks very good in high definition.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
The English (along with French and Portuguese) 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track has plenty of rumble and racket. The audio delivers ably in all areas, with action sequences rife with pulsating music thanks to composer Paul Haslinger, directional effects, bullets punching, glass crashing, helicopter blades throbbing as they cut air, and explosions from time to time all delivering the goods. One of the more interesting sequences for sound design is during a shoot-out. Rather than hear the boom of gunshots, the audio is muted of piercing and loud sounds, lending gravity to the moment – and providing an interesting ambient sound throughout the speakers.
The Extras: 2.5 out of 5
“Yeah Ya Know” (Takers)by T.I. (4:30): Music video by T.I. (who also served as a producer on Takers)
Filmmaker & Cast Commentary: Director John Luessenhop, Producer Will Packer, Producer Jason Geter and Tip “T.I.” Harris provide a rather good commentary track for their film, with some technical and creative insight.
(Blu-ray exclusive) Executing the Heist – The Making of(11:14): I am often wary of ‘making of’ special features that run as short as this eleven minute extra does as they often are not so much a making of as a chance for cast and crew to share how much they enjoyed being a part of a project. This one falls into that category.
(Blu-ray exclusive) Take Action! – Inside Look at the Stunts(10:08): This special feature focuses mainly on executive producer and co-star Chris Brown and does not provide much by way of revelation. The look behind the armored car/street sequence is perhaps the most worthy.
(Blu-ray exclusive) movieIQ+Sync: With BD-Live, connect to real-time information about the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the film.
Some of the parallel story threading in Takers serves the overall effectiveness of the film as the layers and elements accumulate throughout delivering something entirely more satisfying than the sometimes flawed individual pieces suggest. As entertaining as Takers ultimately is, however, it remains a flawed film that fails to properly service its impressive cast. Zoe Saldana is utterly wasted with just a few lines and a disposable purpose, as is Glynn Turman as Chief Detective Duncan. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Turman perform an outstanding one-man show several years ago, and to watch him relegated here to a few huffs and puffs is disappointing.
Perhaps Takers tried to take on too much with its smaller than average budget and sizeable cast which leads to an array of odds and ends and unfinished characters and story elements. Despites its flaws, however, Takers succeeds as entertainment and is worthy of a look at the very least.
Overall 3.5 out of 5