NEW YORK –– There’s a moral center to “Takers” (Screen Gems), or so at least its creators would have you believe. It doesn’t quite come off that way, and this crime thriller is ultimately a tired exercise in gunfire, explosions and insipid dialogue.
Director John Luessenhop, who co-wrote along with Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus and Avery Duff, tells the story of a gang of five skilled thieves. Team leader Gordon (Idris Elba) is joined by right-hand man John (Paul Walker), explosives expert A.J. (Hayden Christensen) and brothers Jesse (Chris Brown) and Jake (Michael Ealy).
After each elaborately planned job, in which they’re always several steps ahead of the authorities, they seek nothing more than expensive suits, cigars, cognac, overseas bank accounts and women. But they’re still portrayed as somewhat moral – sophisticated good-time guys who take care of their relatives – and are much more appealing than the other criminals with whom they sometimes collaborate. How these guys even found each other in the first place, though, is never explained.
Then, Ghost (Tip “T.I.” Harris) – the only member of the crew who was shot during an earlier job and imprisoned – turns up, having served his term. He’s embittered, has connections to Russian mobsters, and has a plan the Russkies devised for the highly engineered robbery of an armored truck. The rest of the film hinges on whether the fast-talking Ghost can be trusted, and how many of the gang members will survive.
Matt Dillon plays grumpy Los Angeles detective Jack Welles, who is always the requisite pace behind when the explosions occur, even as he deals with a boatload of his own torment.
It all adds up to the distressing formula: Two exciting chase sequences; speaker-rattling gunfire; suits by Armani; script by International House of Cliche.
The film contains constant stylized gun violence and an instance of male rear nudity, as well as pervasive crude and fleeting profane and crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service. More reviews are available online.