The Wire's Idris Elba heads up a West Coast posse of sharp-dressed kleptos who do one big job a year and nightclub it the other 364. Matt Dillon is the fuzz on their tail, a grizzled obsessive in love with his job and neglectful of his family. The crooks' slo-mo power-walk away from an exploding helicopter puts the likelihood of their capture into perspective: Jurisprudence takes a holiday when thievery looks this damn good. But the gum in the works is ex-con Ghost (hip-hop artist T.I.), who brings tidings to Elba and crew of an armored car stickup to end 'em all.
It's obvious that the dung will eventually pelt the spinning blades; in terms of plot, Takers is as derivative as a direct-to-video quickie. Yet for all its faux Michael Mann--isms (ooh, that sharp-edged L.A. architecture!), the film is still rather enthralling. Director John Luessenhop's aggressive approach to action scenes is frequently inspired, especially the parkour-peppered foot chase between Dillon, fellow flatfoot Jay Hernandez and yard-stomping criminal Chris Brown. And the casting, from lead roles to supporting, is uniformly terrific: It's a particular pleasure to see the underutilized Marianne Jean-Baptiste (of Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies) steal scenes as Elba's drug-addict sis.---Keith Uhlich
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