5-Word 365 #324 – Takers

For connoisseurs of really bad movie posters, this is among the most famous. An example of some truly heinous photoshopping, it had the odd effect of actually making me want to see the film. So I did.


Let’s play “Spot The Influences!”

A crew of high-class bank robbers are handed a $20m job on a plate by a former comrade just out of the joint. Are his motives entirely magnanimous? And what about that oddly determined cop on their trail? If I didn’t know better, I’d say everything was gearing up towards a stand-off, possibly outside an airport hangar. Gunfire (and some free-running) ensues.

As Sam Seaborn once said, “good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright”. It’s one thing to have a movie that is derivative of the ones that have gone before, but it takes a certain glorious shamelessness to have your characters reference by name the film you are stealing from. And so goes Takers, from director John Luessenhop. On the surface it is just another crime thriller built around the infamously doomed one last job, with a dash of sudden but inevitable betrayal tossed in for good measure. It has the requisite hip hop stars among the ensemble cast, and plenty of gunplay and sexy cars to keep the boys happy, but it is also an effective little under-the-radar action flick bolstered by some fine performances (some of which are a bit more surprising than others).

The crew is headed up by the super-suave Idris Elba (holding on to his native accent for once) as Gordon with Paul Walker as Rusty Ryan John, Michael Ealy and Chris Brown – yes, that Chris Brown – as the brothers Jake and Jesse, and Hayden Christensen as AJ, “the wacky one”. Luessenhop and his co-writers follow the Ocean’s trend of making these guys not necessarily heroic but at least kinda likable; this one plays jazz piano in his spare time; that one’s trying to keep his crackhead sister in rehab; this other one just got engaged (to Zoe Saldana! Bastard). In every group scene the camaraderie is obvious. It’s clear this group really do get on well.

I know, let’s have some moody lighting in our extremely stylish and well-furnished criminal hideout.

On the other side of the law, we have Matt Dillon taking another swim in this pool after Armored, paired up with Jay Hernandez. Dillon is the Vincent Hanna to Elba’s Neil McCauley; obsessive and determined. Hernandez is the more reasonable family man with a kid on dialysis. And that’s where the biggest problem with Takers lies: Both sides are presented as the “good guys”. There is only one outright baddie in the flick, so when the shit really starts hitting the fan in the last act it’s difficult to decide where your sympathies should lie. Do we want the decent, friendly bank robbers to get their money and get away clean, or do we want the honest but unconventional cop to bring down the thieves? There’s no sense of catharsis when the bodies start dropping, only an almost elegiac mourning, which is echoed in Paul Haslinger’s score.

One place where the film doesn’t have a problem is in the action scenes. It’s refreshing to see this kind of thing done for real these days, especially in a film these days, particularly in a film that does not have Christopher Nolan and a $200m budget behind it. Two standout moments are Dillon’s pulse-pounding foot chase of Brown and the climactic armoured car robbery (the so-called Italian Job job). All the action beats are staged with confidence by Luessenhop and his stunt team, giving the film a solid tempo to break up the talky drama.

What, no doves?

The lesson here is not to let a really shitty poster put you off a flick. While it does have some issues, it is still a decent, fun night in front of the big screen.


  1. theipc · November 20, 2012

    LOL @ “The lesson here is not to let a really shitty poster put you off a flick. ” – That’s my biggest problem. I either get suckered into a movie from a good looking poster and the movie sucks or shy away from a shitty looking poster and the movie is awesome. Take this for example:


    I think this could have made more dough if they had marketed it better –

    • Ryan McNeely · November 20, 2012

      Indeed. That looks like a pretty decent flick actually. I’m gonna keep an eye out for that one! Thanks for the tip

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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