Film Friday: ‘Takers’ and ‘The Last Exorcism’

by W. Andrew Powell

The cast of Takers

The cast of Takers

Opening in theatres this weekend: Matt Dillon stars in the heist-thriller, Takers; a preacher has a test of faith as he faces the first real possession of his life in The Last Exorcism; and James Cameron’s epic 3D adventure Avatar returns to theatres.

Starring: Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Tip Harris, Chris Brown, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, Jay Hernandez, Steve Harris, Johnathon Schaech
Director: John Luessenhop

In this high octane heist movie, Matt Dillon plays a drunk and disorderly cop who is trying to stop a group of highly professional bank thieves from walking away with millions of dollars.

Following their latest heist, which goes off without a hitch, the group of thieves, played by Idris Elba, Tip Harris, Chris Brown, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, the group finds themselves with one more job they can try that could net them a cool $20 million.

Like a lot of heist movies though, the “last big job” could be the one that lands them all in prison.

Featuring a cast that is pretty hard to take seriously, no pun intended, Takers has largely been panned by most major critics, although it does look pretty slick to say the least.

“Even with all of the action, and with a few plot twists that are kinda cool, there’s really not enough to Takers to make it worth your time,” wrote Betsy Sharkey for the Los Angeles Times.

While Stephen Farber of the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “The stunt work is amazing, and the pace is breathless enough to keep one watching right up to the somewhat ambiguous conclusion.”

As a summer popcorn flick rounding out the end of the summer releases, Takers seems set to satisfy action junkies, but it’s hardly a notable film.

The Last Exorcism
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Jones, Tony Bentley, John Wright
Director: Daniel Stamm

Director Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism follows Reverend Cotton Marcus, played by Patrick Fabian, as he plans the final exorcism of his career, bringing along a documentary crew to film the event.

While the reverend thinks the exorcism will be yet another useless visitation to a crazed religious fanatic, he plans to confess how he’s ripped off the faithful over the years. Little does he know though that he’s about to face true evil in the face of the young Nell, played by Ashley Bell.

Earning relatively mediocre reviews at, The Last Exorcism looks like it might have more than a little in common with the recent reality-inspired film Paranormal Activity, but the majority of critics say it’s just not as scary.

Jesse Singal of the Boston Globe wrote, “It’s like director Daniel Stamm and his crew realized they were treading awfully close to making a film with real depth and edge that horror audiences might hate, and they just couldn’t pull the trigger”

Backing that idea up, John Anderson of Variety pointed out, “The Last Exorcism makes first-rate use of religious doubt and religious extremism to concoct a novel horror-thriller clever enough to seduce unbelievers while satisfying the bloodlust of its congregation/fanbase.”

Avatar: Special Edition
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: James Cameron

Lastly, the biggest film in recent memory gets another shot at glory this weekend with a second run in IMAX and digital 3D that should help pad out director James Cameron’s bank account a bit more while giving fans one more shot of seeing it with an additional nine minutes of footage thrown in for good measure.

For the five people who haven’t seen it yet, there’s no better chance to see the film the way it was truly meant to be seen.

The story is set in the year 2154 on the planet Pandora in the Alpha Centauri system, a lush and green world inhabited by gigantic blue humanoids known as Na’vi.

Pandora is a world filled with life and dangerous creatures which has been besieged by the machinations of a heavily armed contingent of humans who have been sent to the planet to plunder its resources.

Attempting to make nice with the Na’vi, the company behind the space mission has come up with a way of breeding what they call Avatars – part-human and part-Na’vi clones which can be remotely inhabited by specially trained people. The Na’vi know the Avatars for what they truly are though and will not accept them into their fold.

That is, until Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, lands on the planet.

Jake is a paraplegic ex-Marine who has fallen into the Avatar mission in the hopes that it will pay for treatment to heal his legs, and while the program is one of science, the military minds on Pandora hope he can help them move the Na’vi from their home, which happens to sit on top of a vast quantity of minerals they want to mine.

The problem for Jake is that, through his avatar, he starts to bond with the Na’vi and falls in love with the chief’s daughter, Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana. Through a chance incident, Jake is allowed to become a member of the clan, as long as he can complete the clan’s rite of adulthood.

Slowly, Jake becomes a part of the clan, but at the same time he is also working with Colonel Miles Quaritch, played by Stephen Lang, to help them when the time comes to evict the Na’vi from their tree-house.

Whether you’re a sci-fi fan or not, Avatar is a moving, adventurous drama that is worth seeing in 3D, especially IMAX 3D. Personally, I’ll be headed back to see it one more time before it slips out of theatres again.

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