The Take (Bastille Day)

take12017.13: The Take (2016) – Amazon Prime/VOD

The Take is one of those films… well, its enjoyable enough. Its an action thriller set in Paris, in which an apparent terrorist plot to set off bombs during the French national holiday Bastille day celebrations is in fact an elaborate ruse in the Die Hard tradition to disguise the real bad guys motives to steal a fortune during the ensuing chaos.So its instantly familiar, and its stunts and action sequences have a Bourne Identity-feel to them too, only reinforcing the seen-it-all before feel about the whole enterprise. It is competently made and it all seems very sincere, but that familiarity undermines it all.

If nothing else, it offers a glimpse of what a James Bond movie might have been like with Idris Elba in the starring role (although my wife thought he was channeling his BBC tv-character Luther through the whole thing). His CIA agent however is, like all of the films characters, woefully paper-thin, and while Elba does his best he can’t lift the character into anything really interesting. He is something of a rogue, doesn’t conform to procedure and authority figures well, can handle himself in a fight- what this film desperately needs is some character beats, to get under his skin, which it fails to do.  Possibly it’s a ninety-minute film that really needed to be two hours long, but its so cautious of modern viewer’s attention spans it lacks conviction enough to give that thirty minutes of character beats and narrative foundation. If this were a film made in the 1970s I’m sure it would have been more substantial. In 2016… keep it slick, keep it quick. So we get the explosions and chases and fights and shoot-outs but that’s about it. Pretty vacuous, but efficient.

Unfortunately for the film, it will likely be most widely remembered for the timing of its cinema release prior to real-life terrorist acts in France that caused it to be pulled from cinemas there. As silly as some of these films seem to be,  it’s clear that their plots are uncomfortably close to reality and an indication of how messed-up our world is.  Its a cautionary reminder.


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