Sony Pictures' January '11 Releases
Takers (January 12/11)
A consistently unwatchable actioner, Takers follows a crew of skilled banker robbers (Idris Elba's Gordon, Hayden Christensen's A.J., Michael Ealy's Jake, Paul Walker's John, and Chris Brown's Jesse) as they agree to take on a job proffered by a former associate (T.I.'s Ghost) - with their efforts inevitably thwarted by a pair of dogged cops (Matt Dillon's Jack and Jay Hernandez's Eddie). There's little doubt that Takers comes off as an utterly (and hopelessly) bland endeavor right from the get-go, as the film boasts an atmosphere of pervasive incompetence that inevitably renders its few positive attributes moot (ie there are a few decent character moments sprinkled throughout). Topping Takers' extensive list of inept elements is John Luessenhop's disastrously un direction, with the filmmaker's aggressive reliance on jittery camerawork transforming each and every action sequence into a jumbled mess of random images - which is especially disappointing given the frequency and variety of the movie's high-octane moments (ie there's a lengthy, impressively elaborate foot chase that's rendered unintelligible by the headache-inducing visuals). The film's thoroughly uninvolving vibe is compounded by an ongoing emphasis on tame, family-friendly bursts of violence, simplistic instances of character development, and a proliferation of needless subplots (ie Gordon must contend with his junkie sister), and it ultimately goes without saying that Takers stands as further proof that the action genre is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
The Virginity Hit (January 18/11)
An astonishingly worthless piece of work, The Virginity Hit is a fake documentary following four friends (Matt Bennett's Matt, Zack Pearlman's Zack, Jacob Davich's Jacob, and Justin Kline's Justin) as they attempt to assist one of their own in losing his virginity - with their decision to document the process both helping and hindering their ongoing efforts. Filmmakers Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland have infused The Virginity Hit with a stunningly amateurish feel that's reflected most keenly in its execution, as the aggressively low-rent visual style is consistently exacerbated by the presence of bland, hopelessly underdeveloped characters. It's consequently not surprising to note that the experience of watching the movie is all-too-often akin to watching a stranger's home videos, with the pervasive lack of context effectively preventing the viewer from working up any interest in the protagonists' disturbingly sleazy exploits. The infuriatingly superficial atmosphere ensures that Botko and Gurland's periodic attempts at depth fall completely flat, as the film's ill-conceived dramatic subplots - ie Matt confronts his alcoholic father - inevitably stand out like a sore thumb. Of course, it might have been easier to overlook the movie's laundry list of problems were any of this funny - yet Botko and Gurland prove utterly unable to elicit a single laugh from the central foursome's off-putting hijinks (to such an extent that one can't help but wonder if the film is even meant to come off as a comedy). It's finally impossible not to wonder just what producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay saw in this mess, as The Virginity Hit is so devoid of positive attributes that even Botko and Gurland themselves would be hard-pressed to give it a thumbs up.
no stars out of