NATEFLIX

Heist film ‘Takers' offers weak script, likeable cast


A scene from the movie “Takers.” comingsoon.net

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.

The big release this week is a movie about a crew of bank robbers. I am very partial to heist movies, films where a team of dangerous men convene to commit a seemingly impossible crime.

Facts

New DVD releases:

Buried
Ryan Reynolds awakens in a coffin. He has been buried alive with a cell phone, a flash light and a very limited amount of air. Can he survive this claustrophobic thriller?
Animal Kingdom
Guy Pearce leads an infamous family of bank robbers in the rough and tumble streets of Melbourne, Australia.
The Virginity Hit
From the creative team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay comes this low-budget R-rated comedy, a mock-documentary about teenagers trying to lose their virginity.
Death Race 2
A different place, but the same bloody race. This prequel tracks the origins of the Death Race, starring Luke Goss, Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames.
Stone
A twisty-turny dramatic thriller where parole officer Robert De Niro matches wits with convicted arsonist Edward Norton while Milla Jovovich is caught in between.

Facts

Nate rates it:

“Takers” Watch It
“Oceans 11” Buy It
“The Usual Suspects” Buy It
“Heist” Buy It

Rating key
Buy It­­ — worth adding to your personal collection; Rent It — worth paying money to watch
Watch It — worth watching for free
Skip It — not worth watching at all.

These movies always follow the same pattern: There is a dynamic but troubled team leader, assembling a group of experts each with a different speciality. They concoct a plan “so crazy that it just might work” and then spend the last half of the movie pulling off the heist.

TAKERS”: This week's new release stars Idris Elba as the team leader, with his loyal crew consisting of Michael Ealy, Paul Walker and Hayden “Don't Call me Darth” Christensen. After a successful bank heist, they are approached by a freshly-paroled former associate. Ghost (played by rapper TI) has the score of a lifetime for them. They're all pretty sure it's a set-up, and Ghost wants to rip them off and kill them, but they decide to go ahead with the plan anyway.

Meanwhile, Matt Dillon plays an obsessed cop on the trail of this crew. His only interesting moment is when he engages in chasing the bad guys with his daughter in the car with him. But nothing interesting really comes of that, it was just the one moment of the film that showed any originality.

“Takers” is not a bad movie. However, it is also not a good movie. The cast is likeable enough, but the script is so weak that even accomplished talent like Elba can't do much with his role. And then there is TI, a popular musician who apparently got the role based on album sales because it certainly wasn't acting ability. This guy is so bad that he makes Paul Walker look like a good actor. Chew on that for a while.

But the real problem with “Takers” is that it's hard to involve yourself in a heist movie when the heist crew is so stupid. To be a successful robber, one must be very smart, so it's hard to understand how these guys have had any sort of success.

The crew of “Takers” is in no danger of ever cracking the Top 10 Heist Crews list. Every team on this list could steal circles around the Takers:

10. THE TOWN”: Starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner, these guys look like no more than a bunch of ragamuffin Boston townies, but they are smart, slick and fearless.

9. “THE A-TEAM”: Starring Liam Neeson, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley and Bradley Cooper. This high-end special ops military team shies away from killing people, preferring to use elaborate plans and misdirection to fulfill the mission.

8. “RONIN”: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard and Sean Bean are an international collection of former agents gathered to steal a very heavily guarded suitcase in this terrific thriller — with one of the all-time great car chases.

7. “POINT BREAK”: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, James LeGros. This is a collection of wind-blown surfer dudes that heist banks in order to finance their quest to find the perfect wave. And that sparkling bit of ridiculous originality is enough to make this crew one of my favorites.

6. “INCEPTION”: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's sort of a specialized field, sneaking into people's dreams to heist their ideas. But DiCaprio and Crew work pretty well as a team... even if DiCaprio almost sabotages the plan every step of the way with his subconscious demons.

5. “HEAT”: Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore. De Niro is the heist-master thanks to this one and “Ronin,” “The Score” and “Goodfellas” all under his belt.

4. “HEIST”: Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, Ricky Jay, Rebecca Pidgeon, Sam Rockwell are a group of grinders who do smaller jobs with smaller pay-offs, lower risks and no killing. When forced to pull a bigger job, they reveal just how brilliant they really are.

3. “THE ITALIAN JOB”: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Seth Green, Donald Sutherland and Edward Norton play guys who may be too flashy and cutesy, but they work big jobs with style and manage to provide some decent humor along the way.

2. “THE USUAL SUSPECTS”: Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Spacey and Stephen Baldwin are a ragtag bunch of criminals forced together and the chemistry is just amazing. The five different thieves form a team that's almost unbeatable ... unless your name is Keyser Soze.

1. “OCEAN'S 11,” “OCEAN'S 12,” “OCEAN'S 13”: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle make up this crew led by Danny Ocean. He works jobs of labrynthian complexity and makes stealing seem like the coolest job in the world. Truly, a role model for the youth of today.

Note: “Reservoir Dogs” “Dead Presidents,” and “The Wild Bunch” were disqualified for leaving a huge stack of bodies and no money, and since I only counted crews and not one-man-shows, the list intentionally overlooked Clive Owen in “Inside Man,” Sean Connery in “Entrapment” and the cat burglar of “Pink Panther” fame.)

Contact Nate Hensley at govideogainesville@gmail.com.

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