Takers is like an urban rendition of Michael Mann’s Heat. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, this heist film bears such a resemblance to its predecessor that its flaws stand out more clearly in comparison to the 1995 thriller. A tight-knit band of bank robbers plan a major heist, a betrayal lingers over them, and an obsessive police detective is hot on their trail. Sound familiar? The plot and characters may be eerily similar (the actors are certainly no Robert De Niro and Al Pacino), but the set up is a solid one – it’s a shame then that what starts off as a perfectly good generic heist movie transitions into a contrived mess of over-theatrics and predictable character twists.A seasoned team of bank robbers, including Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba), John Rahway (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen), and brothers Jake (Michael Ealy) and Jesse Attica (Chris Brown) successfully complete their latest heist and lead a life of luxury while planning their next job. When Ghost (Tip T.I. Harris), a former member of their team, is released from prison, he convinces the group to strike an armored car carrying $20 million. As the “takers” carefully plot out their strategy and draw nearer to exacting the grand larceny, a reckless police officer (Matt Dillon) inches closer to apprehending the crooks.
The opening scene features a fast-paced bank robbery with careful planning, heavy weaponry and expert teamwork. The escape method is satisfyingly smart. But the cleverness ceases abruptly thereafter, with the rest of the film turning into an excruciating episode of glamorizing crime. Many movies have done it before, so the idea is nothing new. In Takers, however, they go a step further: not only are the masks, guns, precision, intelligence and confidence of the group covetable, garnished with a slow-motion stroll away from a fiery explosion, so are the prizes they win for their troubles. Each obtain Porsches, Range Rovers, flashy suits, nightclubs, 30-year-old single malt scotch, cigars, diamonds, penthouses and droves of slender women. It’s no wonder the audience cheers when the thieves succeed in their missions, impersonate police officers, or use violence against other ruffians. Fashionably enough, they also use parkour to flee from the authorities, which is about the only way crime ever gets committed in the 21st century.
Sadly, the only loser in the film is Jack, who is supposed to be the good guy. In contrast to the wealthy robbers, Jack has a tiny house, lives alone because his girlfriend left him, and has a child that he constantly disappoints. Takers goes to great efforts to make him seem like a bad father, a man who is unafraid to use excessive violence during interrogations, and one with overdramatic tension with his equally unsuccessful partner. It’s easy to dismiss the law and their struggle to do the right thing, especially when the bandits have an admirable “don’t shoot the cops” motto, care about their loved ones, and go out in a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid blaze of glory when they pay for their crimes. Most don’t, so it’s nice to know that life as a criminal is enchanting, and death as a criminal is bound to be accompanied by tear-jerking operatic violin music and dazzling martyrdom.- The Massie Twins