Takers (Luessenhop, 2010)

Takers is a small but pleasant surprise, an efficient late-summer action-heist film with a tight script and solid performances from an amiable ensemble cast. If it invites but doesn’t quite earn comparisons to Michael Mann’s Heat, well, at least it has its sights set in the right direction. There isn’t anything here that we haven’t seen before, but it is executed well.

The basic structure of Takers is that of the dual narrative police procedural intercut with the criminals’ plans for their next heist. Thematically we get the standard postmodern (post-Romantic, really) blurring of moral distinctions between the good guys and the bad guys as the crooks show loyalty to family and racial tolerance, while the cops bend the rules of evidence, intimidate suspect and generally neglect their family. (Dillon’s character tails a suspect’s car while driving with his daughter and ignores her pleas–on his custody weekend, of course–to spend family time together so that he can close the case.)

The second half of the film is much more of an action film, with a virtuoso chase scene across the urban landscape and several gunfights and showdowns. If these scenes lack the emotional power they would have if we had more invested in the characters, they still have excitement. I would think it’s actually harder than it looks to shoot a clear action sequence–to convey frenetic activity while still providing enough visual continuity so that the audience can follow what is going on. Thankfully, the hand-held camera with the ragged, bouncing frame that has become so popular is greatly reduced. There are a lot of blue filters to give the film a cooler tone without it being too dark and murky.

Takers is not ground breaking, but it was entertaining. On a personal note, it’s nice to see the occasional action film with a PG-13 rating rather than one that is always looking for ways to push the envelope of how graphic it can be. There is some brief sexual content, moderate language and a lot of loud gun violence (though not much gore). I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would.

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