Rapper, producer, and mogul Tip “T.I.” Harris was recently named “global creative consultant” for Rémy Martin cognac. Coincidentally or not, he’s also the star and producer of Takers, a heist thriller that feels suspiciously like a feature-length commercial for expensive liquor. Takers is all about impossibly handsome, chiseled men in exquisitely tailored suits looking thoughtful and sophisticated while enjoying fine liquor poured from crystal decanters in a series of glossy, glamorous urban locales. There’s also a heist or two, plus the requisite chases, gunfire, and betrayals, but that all seems incidental to the film’s real purpose: allowing a cast of handsome young men to live out their Rat Pack fantasies—and by extension, the audience’s.
In a case of schlock imitating life, Takers casts T.I., a rapper who was recently released from a high-profile prison bid, as a recently released ex-convict who was literally left for dead by his stylish, fabulously well-to-do former partners during a long-ago heist. T.I.’s former comrades, whose ranks include such strapping specimens as Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, callow pretty boy Hayden Christensen, and a somehow even-worse-than-usual Paul Walker, have every reason to doubt their revenge-hungry former partner, and absolutely no reason to trust him. Yet they inexplicably agree to go in with him on a dodgy-sounding heist all the same. At least give the filmmakers credit for being equal-opportunity hacks: a subplot involving tough-but-kind cop Matt Dillon, dirty partner Jay Hernandez, and Hernandez’s sick child is every bit as stiffly acted and woodenly written as the business involving the heist.
Director John Luessenhop and his co-screenwriters Peter Allen, Gabriel Casseus, and Avery Duff futilely attempt to add a little substance to the flashy nonsense with a subplot involving Elba’s troubled bond with crack-addicted sister Marianne Jean-Baptiste. But in spite of the pedigree of the actors involved, the relationship feels shoehorned in from another movie altogether. Besides, too much—or for that matter, any—characterization might get in the way of the film’s raison d’être: standing-around-looking-cool sequences.