The heist movie genre gets a hip-hop makeover in Takers, a movie loaded with as much style as ammunition.
A well-heeled gang of bank robbers (including Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen and bad boy musician Chris Brown) are confounding cops with elaborate diversions and thefts, clearly enjoying the ill-gotten gains. Their lavish lifestyles sharply contrast with the sweaty, streetwise detectives (Matt Dillon, Jay Fernandez) chasing them.
Everything's fine until a former accomplice (Tip "T.I." Harris) gets paroled, coming out of prison with a grudge and scheme to rob an armored car. Toss in the Russian mafia seeking a share of the robbery, and chances of macho posturing dramatically increase.
The caper isn't as complex as an Ocean's pick-a-number flick but involves a lot of C-4 explosives, a daring subway escape and some darn fine clothing. Dialogue and situations are familiar but it's tough to resist a snazzy montage of trophy babes by the pool, slick suits being donned and a rendezvous of bad rides and a slow-mo stroll toward the camera.
Cinematographer Michael Barrett goes too far with shaky-cam movements intended to goose the action. Takers has sturdily mounted shootouts and chases that could be appreciated more with a lingering view here and there. Barrett's color scheme is sharp throughout; gun metal blues, white hot flashes and all shades of shadows.
The cast is suitably charismatic, although their characters typically have one issue (a junkie lover, a score to settle) or a wardrobe statement (Christensen's jaunty hat) to separate them from the pack. Takers offers little that's new but remains entertaining throughout.
Takers is notable for Tampa Bay audiences: its producer, William Packer, is a St. Petersburg native who since 2000 shaped two No. 1 box office hits (Stomp the Yard, Obsessed) among 16 feature film credits. Packer is the real deal, and a solid opening weekend for Takers will only make him hotter in Hollywood.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.