Watching a film that both keeps you engaged and under a cloud of suspense is no small feat. Plots have been recycled for years, and only a few are able to fight themselves onto the top and set themselves apart from the crowd. The Take, the new film by James Watkins, has done exactly that. With the masterful way the film allows the tension to build properly while piggy-backing on the strength of the films talent, this film is a ride you will want to journey with.
The Take centers on a trifecta of conflicting characters. Richard Madden plays Michael Mason, a cunning pickpocket who has mastered the streets of Paris. It’s eluded to that he’s on the run from something, but the mystery behind his character is enough to give him life without the weight of explanation. Zoe, played by Charlotte Le Bon, is a political activist who has the power of the people behind her. Her focus is to change the political-social climate of France, but with the intention of carrying this out peacefully. Lastly, the CIA operative who is bringing them together, unwilling, to fight the man behind the mask is Sean Briar, played expertly by Idris Elba. Briar is a man who will correct wrongs and make things right, no matter what the cost, which is tested at every turn.
There has been an attack on Paris, causing tensions and divide to filter through the city at an unbelievable pace. Zoe was the original initiator behind the attack, but when her resolved was shaken, she faulted. In a case of horribly wrong place at the right time, Michael becomes the lead suspect of the eventual bombing. These two unwilling participants in a larger scheme become prime targets for not only Briar, but the criminals and the French police.
There are multiple pieces of the puzzle being operated and maneuvered throughout the film, but they are never perplexing. The story is easy to follow, and with every bit of information that is revealed, the audience tightens their grip. Suspense is a film emotion that can easily be taken in the wrong direction with the slightest nudge, but Watkins keeps the reigns tights and the wheels on track. The stakes are constantly on the rise, but not in a way where they become absurd. The complications are believable and the characters’ actions deal with the appropriate consequences.
This intricate balance that the two writers, Watkins and Andrew Baldwin, created in the script can only be expedited by the strong cast. With Elba leading us down the gravel path to the truth, the audience knows they are in good hands. Elba releases the ambiance needed for Briar, strength with the right amount of concern. His commanding stature suffocates those around him in distress, yet his gallant eyes rescues you from doubt.
Elba is a rare breed of actor what can convincingly play both terrorizer and protecter, and it takes an equally strong supporting cast to balance the current of the film. Madden is able to not only match Elba’s presence, but makes the unequal partnership believable. It’s not awkward watching their scenes together, for their interaction is pleasure to watch.
One of the most important elements of a suspenseful cat-and-mouse film is the action. The coordinating duo of Nora Henderson (Stunt Department Coordinator) and Jimmy O’Dee (Stunt Coordinator) deserve huge recognition for the electrifying action sequences scattered throughout the film. Good action is not only entertaining to watch, but also makes you question who is actually doing the stunts. The stunt actors on this film matched their counterparts so perfectly that the transition was seamless. Care was giving to the close-quarters hand to hand fight scenes as was the death defying spectator stunt sequences. I caught myself wondering what was real and fabricated, which was so much fun as an audience member.
The balanced attributes of this film are what makes this a pleasure to watch. Modern political stakes drive the film, but it’s the in-depth characters, reminiscent of the gritty 70s action-drama, that is it’s nucleus. Twists and turns keep you at the edge of your seat, allowing for full immersion of the story. On top of it being a great story, and whether they realize it or not, The Take is also a huge endorsement for Idris Elba as the next Bond.
The Take is now in theaters and on VOD.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Prodigy Public Relations