WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Jack (Matt Dillon) is one of those unorthodox movie cops who’s sacrificed his family life to keep the city streets clean.
He has one of those Hispanic partners (Jay Hernandez) that those movie cops often have and as is typical in such scenarios, they’re having trouble concentrating on crime-fighting as they have Internal Affairs on their backs.
Meanwhile, a slick gang of bank robbers, led by Jake (Michael Ealy) with his baby brother Jesse (Chris Brown) in tow, are now spending more of their time enjoying the club they own and their city-centre penthouse apartments than they are thinking about their next job.
The brawn at the heart of the gang is cockney ex-pat Gordon (Idris Elba), who devotes most of his attention to caring for his drug-addled sister Naomi (Marianne Jean-Baptiste).
The other gang members are the charmer John (Paul Walker) and piano-playing upstart AJ (Hayden Christensen).
All is going well until a former gang member Ghost (Tip TI Harris) gets out of jail and turns up to collect his share of the loot from a job he took the fall for.
To make things even worse, while Ghost has been inside, Jake has got engaged to his ex-girlfriend (Zoë Saldaña).
With Ghost threatening to grass on the rest of the gang, he persuades them to help him carry out one last armoured-car heist, based on intelligence he picked from Russian gangsters.
Can they trust him? Can Jack stop them? Will the Russians get the pay-off they’re expecting?
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
You’ve seen this film thousands of time before – so you’ll know all the answers to all those posers already.
From the moment, in the opening shot, Jack’s unmarked police car changes lane for no reason other than because it looks good on film when a car overtakes the camera-car, you know you’re in for a cliché-ridden cops and robbers actioner.
There is nothing original in what is admittedly a very slick thriller, but being released just a week after Ben Affleck’s gritty The Town, this feels all the more stale.
The team-dynamics – on both sides of the law – is universally predictable, which isn’t to say that there aren’t some strong performances. Matt Dillon doesn’t do anything wrong – he just doesn’t have anything particularly interesting to do. And none of the characters really demand any true emotional response.
One of the weakest elements is Gordon’s cockney accent – an accent almost as bad as Don Cheadle’s recent mockney in the Ocean’s Eleven franchise – particularly odd, of course, because Idris Elba is British. And to see Marianne Jean-Baptiste plummet from a lead role in TV’s Without A Trace to Gordon’s ball-and-chain is a huge disappointment. And what is the gorgeous and talented Zoë Saldaña doing, allowing herself to appear in a wallpaper role like this?
The whole Internal Affairs sub-plot – once resolved – is annoying, because it’s so irrelevant to the story at the film’s heart.
The film feels a little rudderless, in that it has no idea whether it’s a film about a down-trodden cop, struggling to get his life back together or a gang of bank robbers whose retirement is scuppered by the release of a jailed colleague.
But the heists are well conceived and a chase which sees police tracking young Jesse on foot down the street, through buildings and along roof-tops is exhilarating.
If you’ve never seen a cops-and-robbers bank-heist film, there is much to enjoy here, but for the 99.9% of us whose cinema-going has been saturated with the genre – and more specifically, many of these very plot points – it’ll be frustrating as you watch this, desperate for a breath of fresh air that never arrives.
From the plot points and the character development to the action scenes and the dialogue, this is as formulaic as it comes – everything has been done better before.
The “takers” of the title refers to the robbers who “take” whatever they want. It should refer to the film-makers who’ve taken everything you see from other films.
But just as robbers can profit from their activities, this film is sure to take money from audiences who should probably be giving their money to the likes of Michael Mann or Martin Scorsese.