Mere weeks ago, there was unleashed upon audiences a force that threatened to singe eyebrows and leave giant holes in the backs of countless theaters. That force gathered the gods of action films yesteryear and promptly punched an otherwise bland summer in the face. I am talking, of course, about The Expendables. I racked my brain trying to figure out how summer 2010 could possibly top this truckload of awesome; what ensemble film could bring together a combination of talents to match the collective greatness of The Expendables?
Well, this week sees the release of Takers. a good old-fashioned heist movie seems the perfect vehicle for an unstoppably fantastic ensemble, right? It might have been had the casting director not based all his decisions on a 2005 issue of Tiger Beat. Yes, friends, where The Expendables had Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren, Takers boasts two rappers and two pretty boys with not one iota of talent between them. Let’s examine these doomed couplets against the cast of The Expendables, shall we? I think you’ll find that Takers is primed to be the anti-Expendables, which is how I will refer to the film from this point on.
Sylvester Stallone — Paul Walker
Sly is a hero of American cinema. Forget the fact that action movies reach arguably the widest audience; Sylvester Stallone has created two characters that have become icons of American cinema. The consummate underdog, Rocky, symbolizes the never-give-up American spirit while Rambo poignantly personifies our foreign policy with the aid of rocket launchers and crap-tons of gasoline. So where The Expendables had Stallone, the anti-Expendables has…Paul Walker. At one time in our sad and not-too-distant past, Walker commanded huge salaries and had a franchise built around him involving a privileged white kid playing cop and racing his symbols of excess through the streets. Rambo would not be pleased. As the film begins, and you're again forced to endure Paul’s vapid dopiness, take solace in the fact that they’re probably not going to be stealing a team of sled dogs.
Bruce Willis — Hayden Christensen
Bruce Willis has played more cinematic badasses than I can count. He raised the American action film to new heights with Die Hard and never looked back. His brief cameo in The Expendables put a glorious cherry on that testosterone sundae. For its part, the anti-Expendables has Hayden Christensen. You remember him, right? He was the face of the downfall of an entire saga. I won’t be so naive as to blame him for all of the prequels’ problems, but his whiny, unbelievably unskilled performance did little to correct its downward spiral.
Arnold Schwarzenegger — TI
I am not even sure this couplet needs examining. Arnie has created even more cinematic icons than has Stallone. Films like The Terminator, Predator, Total Recall, Conan the Barbarian, and T2 are not only great but representative of the core canon of most men’s home video collections. His even shorter appearance in The Expendables lent an even more palpable degree of pomp and circumstance to the film. Not to be outdone, the anti-Expendables stars TI. These two letters refer to wannabe recording-artist-turned-wannabe-actor Tip Harris. I’m not saying rappers can’t act; what I am saying is that I’ve seen ATL...
Dolph Lundgren — Chris Brown
Though not quite as beloved as Willis or Stallone -- the latter perhaps because he spent Rocky IV beating the snot out of him --Dolph Lundgren has an impressive fan base that casts him in the same legendary stock as any of the titans featured in The Expendables. Though like Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, for whom Hollywood tried and failed to cultivate franchises, Dolph always managed to provide a beefy brand of dunderheaded entertainment and created some classics of his own. The anti-Expendables has rapper Chris Brown. Well at least we know that, like Dolph, Chris can hold his own in a brawl…as long as his nemesis is a sexy female singer.
So there you have it. To complete your August film-going experience, why not go see Takers: the anti-Expendables? Where The Expendables was an epic gathering of action-movie legends, Takers is a veritable who’s who of…who cares? If ever Idris Elba had a chance to stand out, this is it.
To read more about the movie, check out the 'Takers' Movie Review by Thomas Leupp.