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   Movie Reviews: Takers
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Studio:
     Sony Pictures Entertainment
Plot:
     A group of bank robbers find their latest heist interrupted by a relentless detective.
Cast:
     Idris Elba, Tip "T.I." Harris, Michael Ealy, Matt Dillon, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Zoe Saldana, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     **

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

The story of a group of high-living crooks, who carry out the ultimate crime, “Takers” is a stylish flick with a cool list of 21st century stars.

Idris Elba, (“The Losers”) as Gordon Jennings, is the leader of this motley crew of criminals, who bankroll their extravagant lifestyles with a string of meticulously planned bank robberies.  After a series of successful heists, the crew is finally convinced by one of their own members, Ghost (Tip "T.I." Harris), to risk it all for one last big score, but with a seasoned detective played by Matt Dillon on their tail, the crew may have just bitten off more than they can chew in their latest escapade.

With a thinly veiled twist, which can be seen coming a mile away, the film’s first act is devoted to introducing the group of suave gangster’s living the high-life in an extravagant lifestyle filled with hot cars, hotter women, and unlimited cash. There’s Jennings (Elba), the debonair leader and his longtime buddy, John (Paul Walker), A.J. (Hayden Christensen) and the Attica brothers Jake (Michael Ealy) and Jesse (Chris Brown).  As the crew celebrates the success of their most recent heist at a chic downtown club, Ghost (T.I.), a former comrade, who is fresh out of a stint in jail, drops by with an irresistible proposal to rob an armored truck, which he claims will net them $20 million --  more than enough cash to hang-up their ski masks forever.

Drawing strength from an ensemble cast of major stars, “Takers” never really takes off. Despite its high-rolling reputation, it lacks the requisite suspense and tension associated with these types of crime caper flicks. T.I., who also doubles as producer, is ostensibly the star of the show with a pivotal role. Ealy and Brown never quite submerge themselves in their roles and Brown appears miscast. Zoe Saldana, as mere eye candy, makes a brief appearance as Ghost’s former girlfriend, whilst Oscar-winning actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays Jennings’s drug addicted sister.

At any rate, the pace finally picks up a little when the daring scheme is set in motion, but its all style over substance as we follow the crew in their planning, staging and execution.

Directed by John Luessenhop (“Lockdown”), “Takers” is slick on the surface and is a perfectly adequate Hollywood movie, which is even classy and entertaining at times, but with little substance, it relies far too heavily on the presence of its major stars.

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