The Take, a steady if unspectacular action thriller, pairs an American pickpocket with a lone-wolf CIA agent, unlikely allies in the pursuit of a gang behind a deadly bombing in Paris.
If this sounds rather formulaic, it is — and the film doesn’t pretend otherwise. But to its credit, The Take moves along briskly, offering a decent duo of actors, a few deft plot twists and some refreshingly realistic action sequences that don’t look like they’ve been cobbled together in a special-effects factory.
Michael Mason (Richard Madden, fine) is a low-level yet competent thief who has run away from his problems and managed a living of sorts in the French capital. Before you can say Alfred Hitchcock, Mason snatches a package from an un-alert terrorist sympathizer, but instead of cash and credit cards, the unwitting Mason discovers a teddy bear, which he discards — right before it explodes.
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Suddenly, Mason finds himself as suspect No. 1 in the fatal blast, and since the French authorities seem to have gone on vacation, U.S. intelligence agent Sean Briar (Idris Elba, strong) hunts him down, disobeying orders from his superiors at every turn, natch.
Director James Watkins keeps things reasonably interesting, but his characters are not well drawn, which hinders the buddy dynamic between Mason and Briar.
Though Madden and Elba both have a nice screen presence, and some of their banter is amusing, we don’t feel invested in their fate. That goes double for the supporting cast; the bad guys here are particularly unmemorable.
Eventually, the plot feels more perfunctory than palpable, but Watkins is careful not to drag things out. All in all, we don’t mind being taken along for the ride, yet in the end, we’re ready to disembark.
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☆☆ 1/2 (out of five)
Director: James Watkins
Cast: Idris Elba, Richard Madden
Rated: R (violence, strong language, some nudity)
Running time: 90 min.