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Take, The (Bastille Day) (2016)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: November 18th, 2016 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James Watkins Actors: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly, Jose Garcia, Thierry Godard, Stephane Caillard, Eriq Ebouaney

I

n Paris, a woman strolls completely naked down a flight of steps, causing gawking onlookers to pull out their phones and cameras. But it’s merely a jaw-dropping distraction so that Michael Mason (Richard Madden) can pickpocket the crowd. He’s been stuck in France for quite some time, but has no desire to return home; it would seem that he’s burned most of his bridges and has no family to speak of.

Meanwhile, at the CIA Surveillance Unit, Special Agent Sean Briar (Idris Elba) undergoes routine interrogation by his superiors, taking flak for failing on a previous mission with an informant. But once he gets back to his duties, Briar will have to investigate Zoe Naville (Charlotte Le Bon), a young woman tasked by some radical baddies to plant a bomb at the French Nationalist Party’s headquarters. He’ll also have to look into Mason, who manages to steal the concealed explosive mere minutes before it goes off, relocating it to a less significant spot. Nevertheless, he’s identified as a potential terrorist.

Elba is watchable as ever (he even sings the closing song), taking his role incredibly seriously, this time portraying a type of secret agent along the lines of the 007 role for which he was widely rumored to be a candidate. “Innocent people don’t run.” “You were coming after me; have you seen yourself?” Madden doesn’t quite cut it as the novice mixed up in a much bigger game (one that uses terrorism as a cover-up for robbery – a trope utilized before but still effective here), though his general design plays off nicely against Elba’s formidable heavy. Elba’s a one-man show, even if supporting personas eat up his screentime; he’s the sort of character that doesn’t need a buddy-cop relationship, despite managing capably to verbally spar with one.

As for the thrills, guns are brandished and chases ensue, but the stunts aren’t nearly as graceful as they would be in a larger-than-life adventure. Instead, there’s a strange realism to the action, with characters not quite able to conduct parkour movements in that effortless, superhuman manner of Bond or Bourne. And it’s entirely amusing. The fight choreography still has pizzazz, orchestrating a particularly gripping home invasion scenario, with Elba turning the tables on gas-mask-wearing assassins, and a close-quarters brawl in the back of a police van as it careens to and fro due to an injured driver.

These sequences occur with welcome regularity, giving Elba an opportunity to appear tough – and curse, comfortably. The action is also nice to break up the expected plot complications, such as jurisdictional red tape and the politicized backdrop of xenophobia and terrorism during Bastille Day celebrations (a coincidence with real-life events that would delay and effectively bury “The Take’s” theatrical run). While some of the dialogue is overly generic, the third act lulls for a beat, and a twist or two are notably unoriginal (yet spontaneous and unpredictable in the moment), the shootouts and showdowns win out – along with Elba, who can’t help but to be engaging, even when the climax is riddled with holes in continuity, the placement of security guards, and their convenient disappearances.

– Mike Massie

 



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