Combustible Celluloid
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With: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly, José Garcia
Written by: Andrew Baldwin, James Watkins
Directed by: James Watkins
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and some nudity
Running Time: 92
Date: 11/18/2016

The Take (2016)

2 Stars (out of 4)

You Say You Want a Revolution?

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This thriller begins with a strong, relevant idea, using a fake terrorist attack to mask another crime, but the extremely poor handling of the storytelling soon demotes it to a forgettable throwaway.

In The Take, a possible terrorist organization plans to bomb an empty office building in Paris to send a message. They use an innocent girl, Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon), for the task, but she balks when she sees a cleaning crew in the building. While she ponders her next move, an American pickpocket, Michael (Richard Madden), steals her bag, and the bomb goes off near an apartment building.

CIA agent Briar (Idris Elba) catches the thief, and decides that he's telling the truth; he did not know about the bomb. Briar and Michael team up to find Zoe, and to eventually find out what's behind the plot. Meanwhile, the blast has been blamed on immigrants, and, as Bastille Day approaches, angry protestors are taking to the streets to make a stand.

The Take (a generic new title chosen over the original title Bastille Day), effectively shows the rising tides of anger, the demonstrations, the news reports, and the social media storms, that lead up to a full-scale uprising. It's scary, but not too unrealistic, to imagine that unscrupulous souls could be using this brouhaha as a distraction to cover up some other crime.

But the screenplay by Andrew Baldwin and director James Watkins relies on far too many lazy cliches, such as the mismatched heroes, reluctantly teamed up and constantly bickering, or the sudden "surprise" betrayal, which is so clumsily telegraphed that it's no surprise. Moreover, Watkins, who helmed the effectively spooky The Woman in Black, chooses jerky camerawork and strobe-like editing, so that the so-called thrills are no longer thrilling. They're just annoying. On the plus side, Idris Elba makes a commanding spy; this could be a good audition for a future James Bond movie.

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