Pickpocket Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is scrambling across the famous steep sheet iron rooftops of Paris. He is slipping, having no idea how he got into a foot chase with Sean Briars (Idris Elba). It is this attention to detail, the slipping, that makes this chase sequence the only thing worthwhile in this predictable and plain spy flick.
The Take (formerly titled Bastille Day, changed for obvious reasons) is so desperate to be about something that its attempts at social commentary are laughable. Madden’s pickpocket finds himself embroiled in a plot about how quick people are to blame certain fractions of society after a terrorist attack. However, the only reason these bits of commentary even register is because of some twisted chance that the film’s events are similar to the sickening real-world tragedy that happened after the film’s cinematic release. There is nothing in the film that makes it deserve the commentary it desires. The film and the characters couldn’t care less about police brutality or ‘othering’, it just uses the themes to set up a robbery attempt. The characters don’t care, we don’t care.
In fact, no one seems to care about this film. The actors are just showing up, saying the lines and collecting their cash. No one bothers to offer anything memorable. The always-awesome Idris Elba sleepwalks through his performance and Madden is just there. The screenwriter’s mind seems to have wandered away, focusing on his upcoming holiday as the characters just talk about the incoherent and daft plot whilst sounding like robots. It has the opportunity to do unique things, to use one of the most vibrant cities in the world as an interesting action backdrop — it fails to do this.
That is the biggest crime The Take commits. It bungles its Parisian setting. Apart from a few surface details like having French signs, the film doesn’t use anything unique about the setting. French society isn’t integrated and quite often the background is out of focus. If it wasn’t for the forced appearance of the Eiffel Tower in a couple of establishing shots, the film could have been set in any city. A film’s setting should be integral to its story and, apart from the aforementioned rooftop chase, it just appears like the filmmakers just wanted a free trip to Paris.
However, James Watkins does make some smart decisions. Visually he creates a couple of nice shots and a couple of interesting action scenes, even though his action direction is a bit rote. He also makes the nice move of having French characters communicate in French. This is his first film outside of the horror genre where he showed promise. So it’s just a shame he and his cast and crew fail to do anything interesting when they have the capacity to do so.
The Take is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD now.