The Take

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Take Movie Poster Image
Interesting idea lost in lazy, violent storytelling.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Tackles the thought-provoking scenario of unscrupulous people creating a fake terrorist attack and then building an angry uprising through social media, all in order to cover up a crime. But the main plot is pretty message-free.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one is particularly interesting; even the heroes are allowed to commit violence with no real consequences.

Violence

Guns and shooting, characters killed, blood spilled. Fighting, kicking, punching, choking, and bashing with blunt objects. Beatings. Characters held at knife-point. A hanged man. Explosions. Car crashes. Riot in streets, with pushing, shoving, kicking, etc. Gory photographs. Car on fire. Gun in mouth.

Sex

Naked woman in public; somewhat lengthy shots of bare breasts and bottom. Kissing.

Language

Several uses of "f--k" and "motherf----r," plus "a--hole," "s--t," "piss," and "d--k" (some spoken in French and translated in English subtitles).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. Reference to "getting high."

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."

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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?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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