TAKERS By Gary Murray Starring Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Matt Dillon Directed by John Luessenhop Written by Peter Allen & Avery Duff and Gabriel Cassues & John Luessenhop Running time 107 min MPAA Rating PG-13 Selig Film Rating Matinee The heist film has been a part of the American cinema landscape from the beginning. The first real film, The Great Train Robbery, was essentially a heist flick. While the genre has twisted and turned in a thousand different directions over the years, the basic plot remains the same, A bunch of people decide to break the law and do that one big score. The latest flick to attempt this is Takers. The story of Takers concerns a group of bank robbers who are perfect in their execution. After a number of jobs over a number of years, the police are no closer to finding out who is behind the crimes. The police are represented by Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) a hard nose who has no problems with roughing up a few suspects to get his information. He wants these guys and he wants them served on a silver platter. Into the mix comes Ghost (Tip 'T.I.' Harris) a con from a botched job in 2004. On his release from the joint, he contacts his old gang. It seems that while he was inside, Ghost made contacts with the Russian Mafia and have secured their services in pulling of a major armored car heist. There in only one problem, the event has to take place in five days, barely enough time to make plans much less execute them. The guys are tempted by the payout, over 25 million dollars. As the men begin to plan out the heist, we start to learn about each individual member. The leader Gordon (Idris Elba) has a sister Naomi ( Marianne Jean-Baptiste) just out of rehab. Jake (Michael Ealy) has something special going on with Rachel (Zoe Saldana) who had something going on with Ghost. Jesse (Chris Brown) is the bragger all full of swagger and A.J. (Hayden Christensen) just wants to have fun. It is how all these elements tie together with the heist is what drives the action in Takers. Director John Luessenhop steals from everybody in making Takers. There are the slow-motion gun battles straight out of The Magnificent Seven. He uses Godfather style music and some Green Zone camera techniques to tell his tale. There is more flash than substance with the finished product, but as an entertainment it stays on a laser focus.. The film is more of a showcase for Chris Brown than any other actor of the piece. He has the giant chase scene in the middle of the flick, the big action set piece. The running and jumping goes on and on but never loses the intensity. This flick may help some to forget the negative press that Mr. Brown has generated over the last two years. The rest of the robbers never give us a solid reason to root for them, no feeling of revenging justice. They are all just hoods trying to beat the system. As much as I like Zoe Saldana, her performance here in badly written and phoned in. Matt Dillon is such a great actor that he can make the phone book sound interesting. His cop character has been used time and time again but he does seem to put some fresh spin on a stock role. The biggest find of Takers is Tip 'T.I.' Harris as Ghost. I don't remember ever seeing him before this film, but he just stands out as the guy up the river who keeps all the wheels in motion. His big reveal in Takers is never telegraphed throughout the flick. He just keeps his cards too close to the vest. The entire exercise of Takers is a low rent cross between The Godfather and Butch and Sundance, all male bonding with guns and cash. While not the best flick of the summer, it is better than most and a nice little bit of action to end out the season.

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