At the Movies: Takers

We interrupt our Special Report for our regularly scheduled Friday feature. Be sure to check in this weekend for the exciting conclusion of “LawyerCon 2010: Mad About Montana.”

If you haven’t heard of this week’s movie, don’t feel bad. I don’t think I’ve seen a single commercial or trailer for it. So it was either this or “The Last Exorcism.” Looks like it could be another good week for “The Expendables.”

It’s not called the dog days of summer for nothing.

Despite its low profile, “Takers” is a decent heist movie. It is, however, an odd mix of fairly compelling personal drama with over-the-top action.

Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba) leads a team of professional thieves including John Rahway (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen), and brothers Jesse (Chris Brown) and Jake Attica (Michael Ealy). The gang do high-profile crimes which they plan meticulously. They score big paydays and then take a year off between jobs.

They have just completed a daring bank robbery and are ready to lay low, but then the sixth man on their team is released from prison. Ghost (Tip ‘T.I’. Harris) is itching to get back in the game and already has a sweet project lined up: an armored car heist that could net the team millions.

There’s a catch — they only have five days to plan the job. Gordon and the others aren’t sure they trust Ghost, or if they have enough time to prepare, but the potential payoff is too great to brush off.

Oh, there’s one other hitch. The bank robbery has brought Gordon’s team to the attention of Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and his partner Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez). Jack is a doggedly determined detective who won’t stop until he’s solved the crime.

“Takers” is a smart movie with a compelling cast. Director John Luessenhop takes the time to give each character a personality and manages to make both the thieves and the detectives sympathetic characters. OK, Ghost is not at all sympathetic, but he’s the only one-note villain in the piece.

Strangely, where the fill comes up short for me — and I can’t believe it’s me saying this — is with the action sequences. They are well done for the most part, but so out of proportion with reality that it jars with the personal dramas that are being depicted. The armored car heist starts out with real tension but then becomes almost cartoonish; a parkour-style chase with Chris Brown goes on far too long; and a hotel shoot-out becomes preposterous.

Did it work for me? If you don’t mind the shifts in tone, “Takers” takes a familiar type of story and tells it with style. If you like heist movies, this one is pretty good.


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