The Take (DVD)

Set in East L.A., The Take tells the dramatic tale of armoured truck driver Felix De La Pena who is held at gunpoint as a bunch of crooks try and steal the money. Things go from bad to worse and Felix is shot in the head. He miraculously survives the injury, but is a changed man. His mood swings leave him in fits of rage which eventually lead him to try and track down and wreak revenge upon his attackers.

Leguizamo delivers a great performance as Felix, comfortably portraying the full gamut of emotions required for the complex role, but sadly it's not enough to make this very ordinary film anything more than a straight to DVD movie. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the film, but at every stage it just felt like it was going through the motions. Every stage of the plot was predictable, and there were plenty of opportunities for clever twists missed by the constant desire to baby the viewer through each stage of the story. Whether it's the various aspects of the robbery being over exhibited or Felix's increasing aggression (I really didn't need to see an aggressive sex scene with Rosie Perez) there was just nothing left to the imagination.

Another reason I couldn't get into the film is that it just felt like TV. The washed out colouring, heavier in blue than red, the jumping camera angles relying on multi-camera set-ups which hurl us from close-up, to medium-shot and back again, the long tracking shots of people walking down corridors as they discuss the events that have just unfolded on screen, they all smack of the rapid moving world of TV where we're expected to have short attention spans and no desire for nuance. Even the music comes in at the most predictable points just to make absolutely sure that we were happy or sad when we were supposed to be. But the real capitulation that showed how heavily The Take had to rely on style over substance was the frequent use of POV shaky camera work to try and look gritty. It's old, tiresome, and really doesn't do this kind of emotional action drama.  

This all adds up to a film that's just easy viewing. The kind of lazy film that's destined for the bargain bin at your local DVD shop. The Take isn't a bad film, it's just a little too patronising and not memorable enough: a little more subtlety would've gone a long way.

EXTRAS ** A directors commentary, behind the scenes documentary and some deleted scenes, which I was surprised to see given how thoroughly they chose to depict every single part of the plot. And of course there's the obligatory trailers.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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