Directed by John Luessenhop. Starring Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon, Michael Ealy, Idris Elba, Steve Harris, Tip "T.I." Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Paul Walker. (2010, PG-13, 107 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 3, 2010

The problem with Takers, a routine, patchily engaging heist thriller, is that it takes and it takes and it takes. It takes itself way too seriously – director Luessenhop seems to think he's assembled a sort of hip-hop Heat, even aping Michael Mann's fondness for cool color palettes. Like Heat, the L.A.-based Takers takes great pains to split the narrative and audience sympathies between cops and robbers alike. Dillon, grimacing so hard I was afraid he might hurt himself, plays a down-on-his-luck detective trying to figure out who engineered a thrilling midday bank heist. The audience knows, of course – the opening minutes detail the job done by The Wire's Elba and his crew, including the terrific Ealy (Sleeper Cell) and producers/performers Brown and T.I. – but it takes a good long while before any of these robbers' names or personalities emerge. Pity: The cops are a bore, but the robbers have an easygoing chemistry with one another. (And Luessenhop has helpfully distinguished the team's two white boys – Walker and Christensen – for audiences by smashing a porkpie hat on top of the Boy Who Would Be Vader.) It takes its time getting there, but Takers has a nice-riding middle section as the team plans its next big heist (it's a doozy). But it runs the stopwatch on a chase sequence to a comical extreme and takes way, way too long to take its final bow, in the process burning off any residual good will.

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