The Take (known as Bastille Day in basically every other country in the world) barely got a theatrical release, but now that it’s about to hit Blu-ray, I’d like to shed a little light on this minor action gem, as it’s a far better genre entry than its near-straight shot to home video would have you believe.
On the hero side, The Take's premise is pretty straight forward. Idris Elba plays Sean Briar, an overly violent CIA guy who goes rogue and teams up with a streetwise pickpocket named Michael (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden) to stop a terrorist plot that, in true action movie fashion, is actually a massive robbery.
On the villain side, things get a little more interesting, if only because it feels so timely. Corrupt cops aim to fervent political chaos in Paris by setting off bombs and framing mosques, manipulating people by posting staged police beatings on social media and doing whatever else they can to get as many folks protesting as possible to distract the city from their goal to steal $500,000,000 from a bank. Since this is all happening from within Paris’ police force, only Idris Elba and Mr. Pickpocket can stop them.
So a lot relies on their chemistry together. Luckily, they have that. The movie doesn’t push it too hard with cute jokes and the like, choosing instead to let Elba’s cool stare and no-nonsense attitude do most of the heavy lifting. Madden doesn’t add much, but there’s a lot to be said for knowing to just get out of Elba’s way. The two make a good pair, but you’re not striving to see them partner up in a sequel or anything.
As an action film, there is a lot to recommend here. It’s all very small scale, but director James Watkins uses the simplicity to his advantage, making sure everything is clean and easy to understand. There’s an interesting foot chase early on, and Elba shines in a shootout late in the film. He really kills the shit out of a couple guys, and it serves as a nice appetizer while we wait to see him take on Stephen King’s gunslinger this summer.
There’s nothing exemplary here. It’s not John Wick. But once we leave top-tier action, really good stuff like this becomes a lot harder to find. The Take is a February action film through and through. I recommend giving it the slot normally reserved for annual Liam Neeson movies. It’s actually better than a lot of those. The only real unfortunate thing about it is this: