Monday, 18 October 2010



They're like red buses: you wait ages for a crime thriller involving bank robberies and armoured car heists, and then two turn up more or less simultaneously. First we had the Ben Affleck movie The Town, which is generally quite good - it feels authentic, it's well made and while it's possibly a bit too long, I rather liked it (despite not being much of an Affleck fan). And then, released just one week later, we have this, which is in the main an absolute mess: it doesn't feel authentic, it isn't in the least bit believable and on a technical level of filmmaking it's surpassed by pretty much everything including gonzo pornography and DFS Winter Sale commercials.

The Takers are a bunch of badass robbers specialising in banks and armoured security vans: one of their original number is just out of prison and wants to get back in the game; he comes up with a ludicrous plan (apparently inspired by the remake of The Italian Job) to seize a van and double-cross some Russian gangsters. Or might he be paying off the Russians and double-crossing his own crew? Meanwhile cop Matt Dillon is on the trail despite his own personal difficulties and the fact that Internal Affairs appear to be interested in him.

Obviously the template for this genre is Michael Mann's terrific Heat, and Takers really, really wants to be Heat. It's trying so desperately hard, bless it, but it simply hasn't a hope. If you want to come anywhere near Heat you need a cast with the calibre of De Niro and Pacino, and all they can muster is Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker and the bloke out of the Fast And Furious movies who isn't Vin Diesel. Which would be okay if you're making a film about male models and pretty boys, but badass they are emphatically not (hell, Michael Mann's even able to convince us that Val Kilmer is badass!). They do have the slightly more badass Idris Elba, who's British and playing British: he has a subplot involving his junkie sister Marianne Jean-Baptiste and if you close your eyes during their scenes it could be EastEnders.

But Heat is also magnificently photographed by Dante Spinotti, and the worst of Takers' crimes is that it's one of the most atrociously photographed movies in ages. It's not even a film - it's shot on some kind of HD digital format but it really looks as though someone's taken the Handycam out of the box from Dixons and isn't bothering to look through the user manual, and the result is stupendously ugly. Add to that the frantic overediting of all the action sequences and a noisy score, and the end product is absolutely incompetent on a purely aesthetic level. There's one extended foot chase sequence that's quite nicely done, and there's a fantastic amount on gunfire for a movie that's only rated 12A, but the technical standards are just shoddy and it's simply not good enough to warrant a theatrical release. This should have gone straight to the Blockbuster rental racks. See The Town instead - it's not great but it's far better than this.


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