Takers takes hyperactive action cinematography to the limits of perceptibility. It's as if someone pumped Michael Bay full of methamphetamine, slashed his budget by $80 million and assigned Fire Marshall Bill (In Living Color, anyone? Yeah, I'm getting old...) as his editor. Which is a real shame, because the story, albeit a rather formulaic heist caper, is actually rather fun.
What should have been a solid B movie, focusing on Idris Elba as a leader of a motley crue of high-stakes bank robbers, and Matt Dillon, who plays a tough-as-nails cop chasing after them, is seriously sidelined by what may be the most ADD directing I've witnessed thus far. Basically what happens is rapper T.I. gets out of jail and finds his old thieving pals and lays out the groundwork for what may be their biggest score ever: an armed car robbery.Elba and his standard grab-bag of criminal cohorts Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy and singer Chris Brown say "fuck it" and take on the crazy plan, despite the fact that T.I. is perhaps one of the sleaziest former cons ever to hit the screen. Okay, maybe that's a misnomer, but he's super-sleazy. He also brings a bad energy into the group. The guys in Heat would never have taken the job. But this movie ain't directed by Michael Mann, so go figure.
Anyway, throw in Matt Dillon as a raspy-voice tough guy on the other side of the law and Jay Hernandez as his more laid-back partner and you can figure out where this is going to go. Dillon does well in playing a no-nonsense, cynical and sometimes brutal character, one that spells serious trouble to the bank robbers. Hernandez also has a few aces up his sleeve, but I won't give away the goods.
So, it's the old cops versus robbers game, plus some token Russian mobsters, a crackhead sister played by Oscar-nominated Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Zoe Saldana in two short scenes as Michael Ealy's girlfriend. Not a bad cocktail, right? But then it's thrown into a cinematic blender.
Director John Luessenhop takes a decent, yet by-the-numbers script penned by himself and a veritable team of writers, Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, and Avery Duff, and minces it using incomprehensible photography and editing so choppy, you'd swear you were in the middle of the Atlantic caught in a hurricane, or watching an Aphex Twin music video. The editing in particular essentially ruins what could have been a really awesome foot chase through downtown L.A. And then there's the obligatory slow-motion shootout climax...
What's left isn't all that much to write home about, suffice to say it'd probably be easier to watch on a smaller screen... you know, on home video. Epileptics and shaky-cam haters beware! If you're going to see Takers, bring a barf bag and have the medics on speed dial.