VOD Spotlight: A long, unlikely journey to the screen for “Takers”

In the crime drama Takers, a gang of high-living bank robbers planning a multimillion-dollar heist find their plans complicated by a tough-guy cop closing in on their operation. Matt Dillon, Paul Walker and Idris Elba star.

The story of Takers begins with Gabriel Casseus, an actor who had never written a screenplay before. After a night at Hollywood’s fabled Mann’s Chinese Theater, Casseus was struck by an inspiration. “The idea for the movie came to me complete from beginning to end,” he says. “But I didn’t know how to write a script. By chance, I had read a script written by Peter Allen a couple of years earlier. I’d never met the guy, never heard of the guy before, but after I read it, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to find this guy and I’m going to write a movie with him.’”

Casseus tracked down Allen in Los Angeles and proposed they collaborate on a screenplay about a high-tech, high-style crew of bank robbers. “He had some very specific ideas,” recalls Allen. “Gabe wanted it to be about a multiracial crew of guys who wear sharp suits and commit designer crimes, meaning they never get caught. He described the robbery that opens the film in great detail. And I said, ‘Okay, we can run with this.’”

Allen gave his partner a window into an urbane world that suited the story to a tee. “To me, Peter represents Gordon Betts, the older master thief played by Idris Elba,” says Casseus. “Peter is very old school and classy, with that sophisticated Dean Martin-Frank Sinatra mindset.”

Allen and Casseus crafted a complex narrative that gives equal time to both sides of the law, pitting the ingenious, charismatic crew against an equally cunning, unrelenting lawman. “You have to have worthy adversaries to keep things interesting,” says Allen. “Your cops are only as good as the guys they’re chasing.”

As the pair fleshed out their ideas, Casseus continued working as an actor. When he won a role in director John Luessenhop’s feature debut, Lockdown, he knew he had found the perfect advocate for the project. “John and I became friends and I gave him the script,” says Casseus. “He responded to it and took it to Clint Culpepper at Screen Gems, who made it all happen.”

With encouragement from Culpepper, Luessenhop and his partner Avery Duff polished the script. “Having someone like John Luessenhop take a pass at our script was exciting,” Casseus says. “He completely understood what we envisioned. He was always thinking about how the story could be improved. He brought an amazing sense of the visual to it.”

Executive producer Glenn S. Gainor consulted with Luessenhop during the development process, which took a number of years. “Getting this movie made is a dream come true for John,” Gainor says. “We discussed the script for months on end. And it’s a tribute to Clint Culpepper and Screen Gems that it did. It really was one of those journeys you hear about in which the script is waiting and waiting until finally, there it is.”

“Takers” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.


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