DECENT FRENCH THRILLER
Film Review by Fiore
One could easily have the impression the only decent French action films involve long sequences of par quor and Luc Besson. THE TAKE provides a more eclectic response. Director James Watkins sits atop a very fast-paced and intriguing action flick, easily keeping par with any of Besson’s work. The film has fight sequences, car chases, plot twists, innocent victims forced to act heroically and a rogue agent who proves to be a one-man army. Good stuff for an action film.
Richard Madden plays Mike Mason. Mike is a kingpin pick-pocket. His style and precision in sleight of hand thievery is unheralded. He does not have a comfortable home life, however, so he moves to Paris to practice his trade. He is doing quite well for himself, until he makes the fatal mistake of lifting a handbag from Zoe.
Zoe is played by French actress Charlotte Le Bon. Zoe is a left-wing activist who wants revolution, but doesn’t want anyone to be hurt while revolting. This is typical of liberal ideology; idealistic change with no one suffering.
Zoe has fallen for an age-old ploy. A nefarious no-good convinces her they share true love and, of by the way, to cement the relationship, will you please plant this bomb. This would be laughable if there weren’t so many women falling for this scam today. It is the basis for numerous sleeper cells.
When Zoe realizes the bomb she is carrying might actually kill people, she backs out of the deal. Before she can toss the bomb, hidden in a teddy bear, into the river, Mike comes along and steals the handbag. He takes the money, cell phone and discards the bag outside of an apartment building, when the bomb explodes, killing four people. Unfortunately for Mike, surveillance cameras capture his visage and he is soon labelled a terrorist and becomes the subject of a massive manhunt.
Laren Dacre, played by Kelly Reilly is head of American Intelligence in France. When it is discovered Mike, an American, may be a bomb terrorist, she initiates her own investigation. It’s not good for Americans to be part of a foreign investigation, even in France. Too many croissants to wade through. Her point man is field agent Sean Briar, played by Idris Elba. He is a rebel, does not respect authority nor the rules of engagement, however, he does produce results.
It’s not long before Briar discovers Mike is not a terrorist, and Zoe is not a criminal jihadist. Now he must prove their innocence and capture the real bad guys before Paris is thrown into flames from riotous mobs. Apparently, predominantly black American cities and towns are not the only places where folk use a criminal incident to loot, destroy and revert to animalistic behavior to gain their Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame. To do this, he must avoid Victor Gamieux, played by Jose Garcia, the head of France’s Homeland Security and antagonist Rafi Bertrand, played by Thierry Godard. Acting for THE TAKE is superb for an action film, even for audiences who may not be familiar with the French stars.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. SPECIAL DELIVERY
2. THE CHASE THROUGH THE BIZARRE
3. THE STORMING OF THE BANK
THE TAKE is scripted by Andrew Baldwin, with a little help from Watkins. The script reveals the plague of political correctness pervades European films as well as those made here. Looking for a scapegoat for their criminal activities, the antagonists pin the blame for the bombing on Muslims. This is an interesting subplot since France is battling a take-over by Muslim immigrants and refugees who are attempting to supplant the French culture with their own.
Director of Photography Tim Maurice-Jones (see, the dreaded three-name people even exist in Europe), who is best known for his work on Guy Ritchie’s LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, provides complimentary shots of Paris. His camera angles on the fight sequences are suspect, as they highlight not the fight itself, but rather large swinging limb movements.
Editor Matthew Vaughn won the British Independent Film Award with his work on THE DESCENT, and cut LAYER CAKE, which was Daniel Craig’s screen test for the role of James Bond. He pieces THE TAKE together in most excellent fashion, keeping the romp to the perfect length of 90 minutes.
All told, THE TAKE is a respectable action yarn with predictable, yet enjoyable plot twists. Fans of the genre will be happy. THE TAKE should also put to rest any further consideration of Elba for the James Bond role. While he is sufficient in this rogue agent part, he is far from Bondish.
THE GRADE FOR THE TAKE = B