“Come drink with me from the goblet of destruction,” quotes T.I.’s bank robber (from Genghis Khan!) before Takers‘ big heist kicks off—and he’s not joking. Acting as both producer and plot fulcrum, T.I. is the big human attraction in Takers, possessing the raw energy that charisma vacuums Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen (front and center) lack. Director John Luessenhop works around them in this cheerfully derivative attempt to merge the epically ponderous L.A.-scapes of Michael Mann’s Heat (criminals versus police, with equal screen time for both) with the digital blur of Michael Mann’s Collateral, but with far more firepower. At least a third of the running time is taken up by car and foot chases (Chris Brown still can’t act, but his parkour is excellent), long Entourage-esque stretches fetishizing expensive clothing, and a generous dose of explosions. The editing is Bourne-fast but mostly coherent, and the plot reversals (no matter how flatly acted) actually do surprise. Gravel-voiced cop Matt Dillon (evidently aging into his Clint Eastwood years ahead of schedule), in pursuit of T.I.’s merry band, is the only other person as compelling as the impeccable action. That’s more than enough to entertain; this is the best baseline-competent action movie to come out all summer.
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