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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 11.17.16] United Kingdom action

It's only a matter of time before Idris Elba is crowned the next Bond but between now and then, the British actor is content to make waves with a mix of Hollywood blockbusters and smaller releases. The Take is only the latest in a string of projects made that much better by his involvement though I'm still scratching my head as to why he's playing CIA agent Sean Briar rather than British intelligence.

Co-written by Andrew Baldwin and James Watkins and directed by Watkins (best known for Eden Lake and The Woman in Black), the basic idea for The Take is fairly straight forward: a team of dirty cops devise a plan to steal a lot of money. Been there done that though admittedly, the fact that this is set in France does add a nice bit of flare to the proceedings.

By far the more interesting part of The Take is the scheme which the cops devise as a distraction for the big con. The officers' plan involves setting off bombs, blaming Muslims for the attack and spawning mass panic and riots on the streets of Paris leading up to Bastille Day (the equivalent of the US' Independence Day).

Watkins and Baldwin's use the very real political climate in France lends a layer of authenticity and reality to the story but its also a missed opportunity. The characters fall into familiar tropes of angry white cops setting up people of color and there's little deviation from that. There are ample opportunities to break away from the familiar but the filmmakers ignore them all and instead opt to introduce a couple of Americans to save the day.

Michael Mason ("Game of Thrones" star Richard Madden) is a pick-pocket hiding in Paris, who finds himself in the middle of the action when he steals a package containing a bomb which he inadvertently leaves in a square, killing a number of people. We're to believe that the involvement of an American is enough to prompt the local CIA office to get involved and the next thing you know, Mason and Briar are reluctantly working together, running around Paris trying to stop the cops from stealing billions of Euros.

Along the way the pair come into close contact with the bad cops leading to a number of chase sequences through the streets of Paris not to mention more than one scene of close quarters hand-to-hand combat in which Briar kicks royal ass.

I'm still confused as to why two Brits are playing Americans in an already unlikely scenario – I can only guess it's an attempt to appeal to a wider American audience. I had some issues with the performances (Madden is particularly wooden and slips in and out of accent constantly) and some of the plotting but in the end I did rather enjoy The Take. Alba and Madden make good partners, the action sequences are really well shot and have a great kinetic energy to them (particularly an early chase on the roofs of Paris) and though the movie fails to make any sort of political or social statement despite the obvious open door, it is a good 90 minutes of entertainment.

The Take opens Friday, November 18.

Recommended Release: The Bourne Trilogy

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