- Puff daddy: T.I.
Don't get me wrong: John Luessenhop's crime caper is pretty junky, from its ridiculous scenarios to its hoary "stylish" direction. (Really? Slow-motion shoot-outs set to ironically mournful cello music? How very 1994 of you.) But for all the eye-rolling (and this was audible at the screening), if you needed a last blast of no-brainer air conditioning, replete with lots of male eye-candy, wildly silly chases and an odd quip or two, this is a palatable popcorn-muncher.
Right away, we're on the job with a smart -- and smartly dressed -- crew of uncatchable bankrobbers, as they take down a bank located high in a Los Angeles skyscraper. (An odd place for a retail bank, but ours is not to ask why.) Their groovy getaway angers Wells (Matt Dillon), a grumpy and grizzled L.A. vice cop.
But through the miracle of movie-close-up magic (you know, the more you zoom in on a photo, the clearer the image becomes), Wells connects the gang to a recently paroled smoothie known as Ghost, portrayed by rapper T.I (himself recently sprung), who makes the most of his honeyed Southern drawl. Now, the chase is on. Fortunately for Wells, the gang has agreed to do the proverbial one-last-job, which involves maps, disguises, a giant hole in the ground -- and is sure to only end in tears.
The film is so lazily plotted that it doesn't even set up which crew member has which specialty: Everybody just pitches in to coordinate a huge crime in less than five days. The gang, who most often resemble -- and pose like -- a Hot Young Things fashion spread, includes Paul Walker (whose acting is flatter than a pancake), Hayden Christensen (as a hipster-doofus gangster), Michael Ealy and fresh-from-the-tabs singer Chris Brown.
The posse is headed by Gordon, a West Indian by way of England (it sort of barely matters). Gordon is portrayed by Idris Elba, who has followed his indelible, nuanced portrayal of the gangster Stringer Bell on The Wire with one formulaic movie role after another. Elba did, however, earn appreciative hoots from the screening audience when he rolled out of bed clad only in boxer briefs. In fact, this throwaway scene generated significantly more audience reaction than any of the expensive high-octane scenes. But, the on-screen action is obviously phony shaky-cam nonsense, while Elba's wall-to-wall muscled chest is for real.