‘Takers’ fits right into heist-movie tradition

Film features a star-studded crew, big-money prize and plenty of twists.

This summer’s biggest hit, “Inception,” put a novel twist on the caper film by setting its action in the world of dreams. But you don’t need to go quite so high-concept to get some juice out of the heist movie, one of the most reliably entertaining variations on the cops-and-robbers story for as long as there have been movies about crime. The latest straight-up heist film to hit the big screen is “Takers,” out Aug. 27 and starring Idris Elba (“The Wire”), Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker (“The Fast and the Furious”), and rappers T.I. and Chris Brown.

Heist films are one of the most formula-bound of genres, but that can be a big part of the fun of watching them. The basic drill is always the same — a group of thieves work together to pull off some seemingly impossible job — but the best heist movies stay fresh while letting viewers indulge in the vicarious thrill of getting away with the perfect crime. Here’s how “Takers” fits in with its shadowy brethren.

Originally published on msnbc.com August 23, 2010. Read the complete article.

Michael Cera’s ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is a proud nerd hero

Suddenly, the unlikely loser has moved from the sidelines to the center of the story.

Scott Pilgrim, the slacker hero of the new action-comedy “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” has just discovered that in order to win the love of the beautiful Ramona Flowers, he must defeat her seven evil exes in single combat. Clearly, it’s time for him to step up and be a man.

But what does that mean, exactly? Scott’s no macho, martini-swilling muscleman in the mode of James Bond. He’s a lazy, unemployed and charmingly naive video-gamer and incompetent bass player in a semi-competent rock trio, whose ability to charm women is equalled by his ability to screw up his relationships with them. Before he meets Ramona, the 23-year-old Scott is dating a high-school student while nursing the wounds of a previous breakup. In short, Scott’s kind of a loser, and definitely a geek.

Luckily, in the world of Scott Pilgrim, having great video-game combat skills also means you’ve got Bruce Lee-level skill at kung fu, all the better to defend yourself when Ramona’s exes start throwing kicks and punches. But still, Pilgrim’s path toward victory is made more difficult by his own naivete; he’s got to find out for himself what it means for a guy like him to grow up.

Originally published on msnbc.com August 4, 2010. Read the complete article.

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