After overcoming some early awkwardness, The Take turns into a crackerjack action thriller, thanks partly to some fantastic action sequences, but mostly thanks to star Idris Elba, who makes perhaps his strongest case yet for becoming the next James Bond, so nimbly does he slip into the role of international action hero.
In Paris on the eve of Bastille Day, an American pickpocket (Richard Madden) steals a woman’s handbag, which, unbeknownst to him, contains a bomb. After he discards the bag, the bomb goes off, killing four people. Wanted by authorities, he’s caught by Elba’s CIA agent, who then drags Madden around as he tracks down the real culprits, a group of mercenaries.
I was ready to abandon the movie after the first fifteen minutes, as Elba’s cliched CIA bosses (one played by Kelly Reilly) sternly tell him to “play the game” and that the higher ups aren’t happy and read from a file that paints Elba as the Dirty Harry of the CIA. Reilly seems especially off, either from being miscast or simply being unable to do anything with such tired dialogue.
Things vastly improve when Elba catches up with Madden. The two make an interesting pair, Elba with his physically intimidating size and impressive fighting skills, Madden with his smooth con-man moves and hesitancy to be any more involved in Elba’s mercenary-stopping efforts than he has to. I wouldn’t mind them pairing up again in a sequel.
And Woman in Black director James Watkins fashions some excellent action, starting with Elba chasing Madden across Parisian rooftops, a wonderfully relentless and dizzying sequence that literally ends with a punch. Much later, Elba, Madden and the aforementioned female bomb-carrier (Charlotte Le Bon) battle bad guys in the back of a van as it hurtles along.
As well the plotting, while not exactly airtight, features some genuine surprises — mainly of the that-person’s-a-what? variety — and Watkins generates some terrific tension during the finale, which involves a riot and lots of men with guns and which concludes to very satisfying effect. After this, I don’t see how the execs at MGM could deny Elba a license to kill. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 2/7/17