Review: The Take (aka Bastille Day)

The Take (aka Bastille Day)
5 10

PLOT: An American pickpocket (Richard Madden) in Paris is framed for a terrorist bombing. Captured by a rogue CIA agent (Idris Elba), he’s given an opportunity to prove his innocence and stop a terrorist threat set to coincide with Bastille Day.

REVIEW: If you’re wondering why an action movie starring Idris Elba and “Game of Thrones's Richard Madden is getting only a modest release, the fact that THE TAKE’s original title was BASTILLE DAY should tip you off. After last year’s real-life Parisian terrorist bombings, suddenly an action romp set around a potential attack didn’t seem appropriate action fodder.

The twist is that the terrorists in THE TAKE are shown to be a band of rogue cops bent on pulling off a major Gold heist, with the threat of a bombing being a distraction. In fact, the bombing itself is designed not to kill anyone, with Madden’s pickpocketing ways and their radical pawn (Charlotte Le Bon) inadvertently responsible for getting several people killed. Any chance that this might make our hero feel any remorse is thrown out the window early-on, with him one of the most distasteful protagonists in recent memory, being a sniveling wimp only out to save his own hide, a miscasting of Madden, who's too refined a character to really pull-off this low-life role.

Lucky then that Idris Elba gets the lion’s share of the screen time. While his rogue agent is straight out of the big book of action movie clichés, it can’t be denied director James Watkins gives him ample opportunity to show his stuff. Elba’s an icon in the making, as this unrefined, low-budget outing seems like a trial run for him as an action hero – and he’s got what it takes (although having him sing the theme song in the closing credits might have been taking it too far).

Some of Elba’s highlights include a close-quarters hand-to-hand scrap in the back-of-a-van, while Watkins saves the real carnage for the climatic shoot-out when, after donning SWAT gear, he goes to war with the baddies army of dirty cops. Too bad his big moment is undercut by cutting back to Madden and Le Bon’s decidedly less bad-ass attempts to help out. He doesn’t need it.

As a pure action exercise, THE TAKE only really comes to life when Elba’s doing his thing, and the budget’s too low to really make this the all-out action romp it should have been. Watkins, who hails from British TV, seems more interested in enhancing the dramatic elements, but the story is two dimensional and uninteresting. Even worse, the French baddies are totally interchangeable, with only moderate motivation given to their actions. Big-time character actors like Kelly Reilly and Anatol Yusef have thin material to work with as Elba’s exasperated superiors who – doggone it – don’t approve of his methods but know he’s the best man for the job!

While THE TAKE is absolutely nothing you haven’t seen before; it’s still worth checking-out, even if only on Netflix, just to see what Elba can do in action hero mode. If he can elevate a B-movie like this, just wait until we see him in a major vehicle like THE DARK TOWER. He alone makes this worth the rental.

Source: JoBlo.com



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