THE TAKE is as generic as an action flick as they come. There is little character development and the story is a bit ludicrous. Idris Elba though shows throughout that he is a bonafide action star. His presence just crackles off the screen, but it is not enough to save the film.
Elba stars as Sean Briar, a CIA agent based in Paris. He’s a loose cannon. He goes by instinct and is always determined to take the bad guys down no matter the cost. On his last mission, he went rogue to take out his targets but in the process got his informant killed. His supervisor, Tom Luddy (Anatol Yusef), wants him to toe the line in his next case. Sean does not take kindly to these suggestions.
Sean’s next case is one of great importance and is set up by two unrelated people. Zoe Neville (Charlotte Le Bon) is an anti-fascist protestor. She is tasked with bombing a supposedly empty office of the French Nationalist Party. She gets cold feet when she sees some cleaning people in the proximity. Meanwhile Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is plying his trade as a pickpocket. He employs a woman to walk down the steps nude and he makes off with watches, wallets, phones and passports. He has a charm about him that makes him easy to deceive people. Michael spies on Zoe as she is crying about her situation. He thinks she is an easy mark since there are no cameras around the area. When she buries her head, he takes off with her backpack. Michael is disappointed to find just a phone and a teddy bear. He tosses the backpack and it explodes moments later throwing him across the street. Michael is now the prime suspect in an act of terrorism.
Rafi Bertrand (Thierry Godard) is the corrupt commander of the French National Police RAPID unit. He’s moving all the pieces for the grand plan that comes together near the end. He is ruthless. He wants Zoe killed for her incompetence and Michael taken down for the information he knows. Karen Dacre (Kelly Reilly), a senior CIA agent that Sean trusts, is trying to help him out in the field. Her high level contact is Victor Gamieux (Jose Garcia), the director of DGSI (General Directorate for Internal Security). That basically is equivalent of the CIA in France. Karen and Victor play a game of cat and mouse with information on the players involved. Neither wants to show their hand. Bastille Day is coming up and no one wants anything bad to happen during this day.
Director James Watkins packs THE TAKE with plenty of chase scenes. There are chases on foot and of course car chases. There is one impressive sequence on the roof of several buildings as Sean tries to capture Michael. All of these are competently done. But we never get to know these characters. There is little background, so it’s hard for the audience to have a rooting interest in anyone. It is just one chase scene after another and soon they just morph together. The characters take turns in going after each other in either a capture or kill mode.
Paris does look lovely on the screen. Even for an action film, the story gets sillier as it goes along. It also has a whiff of familiarity of other more successful movies. Through it all though, Elba does command the screen. He is forceful and is convincing in this role. Sean’s supervisor is a complete cliché. He bellows and yells as Sean goes off his orders. I did find it interesting that all of the major roles for the American characters were played by British actors. You couldn’t really tell as their accents were spot on.
THE TAKE is a routine action flick in a picturesque city. A strong cast led by Idris Elba is wasted by the story and character development.
Video: Paris looked great on the screen.
Audio: The sound was adequate.
Making The Take (2:09): Elba and Madden discuss the story and their characters.