At the close of a fortnight of fatigue, writer’s block and epic national shittiness, Bub messaged me to ask if I felt like reviewing an action-thriller called The Take. Needing to keep my mind as occupied with other things as possible, I agreed, knowing nothing in advance about the film. As I started the screener, I quickly realized that the film stars the indisputably hot Idris Elba and pretty wolf Richard “Robb Stark” Madden. Sometimes, even at times you may not realize it, you just need to sit still and watch hot guys blow shit up on TV. Thank you, Dr. Bub!
At the center of The Take–in theatres and on demand November 18, and previously known outside of North America as Bastille Day–is Michael Mason (Madden), a petty American conman in Paris who, on the eve of Bastille Day (hence the alternate title, changed out of respect for the terrorist attacks in Nice around the time of its original slated release) intercepts a woman’s satchel containing a teddy bear rigged with explosives. Caught on camera abandoning the handbag moments before the bomb detonates, Mason becomes the target of a terrorist manhunt. Innocent and desperate to clear his name, he sets out to find the woman (Charlotte LeBon) responsible for leaving the bag-bomb…who, it turns out, was attempting to aid corrupt members of the French Interior Ministry in creating a diversion that will allow them to carry out a multi-million-dollar digital heist on the holiday. Mason finds an unlikely ally in Sean Briar (Elba), a CIA agent originally dispatched to detain him; soon Briar finds himself a target as well, and the two join forces to take down the band of mercenaries.
I mentioned hot guys blowing shit up earlier; well, let’s call a spade a spade and appreciate this film for what it is: not too much more than that. And who cares? Again, sometimes you just need that movie with pure no-frills entertainment value and all of the accompanying tropes, and The Take has ‘em all: shoot-em-up bad guys, attempts to thwart a big heist, bursts of cheesy buddy-cop humor with the straight-man vs. fall-guy dynamic, by-the-book (and occasionally silly) dialogue. That said, Elba and Madden are as competent and likeable as you’d expect (despite Madden’s American accent occasionally veering into dangerous Charlie-Hunnam-SOA-Season-7 territory), and the plot twists, while predictable, are sufficient to keep viewers invested for its ninety-plus minute duration, but don’t really deliver any follow-through. Still, the film wastes no time delving right into a series of slick action sequences, and typically solid work from the always-watchable Elba propels its otherwise pedestrian storyline. Not a bad effort overall, but not exactly breaking the mold of the buddy-cop thriller genre.