Review: "Takers"

A glossy cops-and-robbers flick cast with hip names, some musicians and a couple of B-listers who might as well be labeled nonactors themselves, "Takers" would like to be "Heat" for the Top 40 crowd but won't satisfy many others.

Almost superficial enough to coast with until the popcorn runs out, it suffers from an overblown finale that tries about five times too hard and makes viewers regret having forgiven the many sins that preceded it.

Musicians Chris Brown and T.I. deliver more convincing performances as heisters than two of their colleagues, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen - lightweights who are distinguishable here mainly because the latter is wearing a pork pie hat and affecting some kind of neo-hepcat attitude.

They're led by stronger presences, Idris Elba of "The Wire" and Michael Ealy, who set the group's tone as quasi-ratpackers who donate a tenth of their ill-gotten gains to charity and spend the rest on aged scotch and dapper duds. The fellas mostly pose early on, though their plan to steal a kajillion dollars from an armored car does eventually result in one enjoyable, almost-tense extended action sequence.

Meanwhile, the Takers dodge Chasers led by Matt Dillon, who generates his share of viewer sympathy as he is dragged down by beleaguered-cop clichés and stilted procedural dialogue. Director John Luessenhop and his three co-screenwriters barely spit out the clues Dillon finds in time to follow him into the next scene, and the actor looks pretty ready to be done by the time they catch up.

Bits of color either don't add up to much (Elba's junkie sister, played by the fine Marianne Jean-Baptiste) or leap out immediately as cues for third-act plot twists. None of the above is offensive as filler in a disposable crime movie, but then Luessenhop tries to convince us it's opera by slathering on the slo-mo and self-sacrifice in a shootout that goes on long enough to use the entire ammo budget of "Scarface" - or, at least, feels like it does.

"Takers"

Our grade: 1-1/2 stars (out of 5)

Genres: Crime Drama, Action

Running Time: 107 min

MPAA rating: PG-13

Release Date: Aug 27, 2010