A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Take is an action/thriller starring Idris Elba and set in Paris (it was originally titled Bastille Day). It centers on the thought-provoking concept of using a terrorist attack -- and subsequent protest -- to cover up another crime, but the execution is rather poor. There's lots of violence, including plenty of guns and shooting, blood and death, fighting and beating, explosions, and more. Sexual content includes a woman shown topless and naked from behind for a few long moments. There's also some kissing. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "motherf----r," as well as "s--t" and "a--hole." Characters smoke, and there's a mention of "getting high."
What's the story?
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 inside. While she ponders her next move, an American pickpocket, Michael (Richard Madden), steals her bag, and the bomb goes off near an apartment building instead. CIA agent Briar (Idris Elba) catches the thief and decides that he's telling the truth; he didn't 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.
Is it any good?
This thriller begins with a strong, relevant idea -- using a fake terrorist attack to mask another crime -- but the poor storytelling soon demotes it to a forgettable throwaway. The Take (a generic 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 people 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. Plus, Watkins, who directed the effectively spooky The Woman in Black, chooses jerky camerawork and strobe-like editing, making the so-called thrills no longer thrilling. They're just annoying. On the plus side, Elba makes a commanding spy; this could be considered a good audition for a future James Bond movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Take's violence. How much of it is necessary to the plot? Which scenes seemed more serious, and which do you think were intended more for thrills? How did the film differentiate between the two?
Do you think it would it be possible for terrorist bombings, social media, and protests to be engineered to cover up other shady activities?
Are the main characters role models? How are they able to be "heroes" when they have so many negative characteristics?
How is nudity treated in the movie? Is it shown in a positive or negative way? What are the reactions to it?
- In theaters: November 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Idris Elba, Charlotte Le Bon, Richard Madden
- Director: James Watkins
- Studios: Focus Features, Focus World, High Top Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some nudity
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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