Pros: Terrific performances, complex themes.
Cons: Grainy video, poor audio.
There are a few things not to like in The Take. But there's also a lot to like.
This movie is all John Leguizamo, as he carries nearly the entire film himself. He plays Felix, a hard-working family man in East L.A., just trying to survive the tough city, with his family intact. As an armored car driver, he knows he has a tough job, but he never expected to be shot in the face and left for dead during a major heist.
But the real surprises come as Felix is recovering. The brain injury has affected him in many ways - both physically and emotionally. In fact, his personality has been altered in ways that make him almost unrecognizable to his family. And, as the leader of the robbers (Tyrese Gibson) makes sure that Felix is the primary suspect in the robbery, Felix has only one driving force left - revenge.
Let's start with the bad stuff, first.
If you're looking for action, don't look here. This is a slow-moving story that plays like a family drama. Most of the scenes are filmed with hand-held cameras, at least that's my theory. Shaky, grainy, dark footage makes this film look like an amateurish documentary. I suppose this was the intended style, but I didn't like it. And, I suspect some viewers will walk out of the film on account of the style. As the video was difficult to take, so too was the audio. There's a lot of mumbling, or at least that's how I interpret the problem. And plenty of places where loud background music drowns out the dialogue.
The only real action occurs at the end of the film, and the scene is absolutely ridiculous. I'm talking bullets flying everywhere and never hitting their mark. I'm talking about direct shots from no more than 40 feet away missing their target. Nobody ever stopping to reload their weapons - that kind of silly stuff. I don't normally get hung up on details like that, but in this case, the scene was so unrealistic it was hard not to notice.
And the investigators, led by Bobby Cannavale, seemed like complete idiots throughout the entire film. They jump to ridiculous conclusions, while overlooking the obvious. Let's hope that real-life investigators are not nearly so incompetent!
But there's also plenty of good stuff in this film.
The themes shown in this movie warrant some notice. How a brain injury can change a person's personality. I felt this was handled very well, with Leguizamo performing optimally. He really shows us a changed man, angry with himself, knowing that he's not the same person he used to be. Considering these changes are brought about through no fault of his own, one can certainly understand his frustration.
His wife and children, trying to stick by him no matter what was another aspect handled very well. Rosie Perez, as his wife, does a terrific job here. You can feel her pain, and her compassion, even as her own patience wears thin. Her continuing faith in her husband, despite the difficulties, was a beautiful thing.
Even the bad guys in this film are complex, and interesting to watch. Gibson plays the ringleader with an intensely cold manner. When we see this evil man with his young daughter, there's an eerie inconsistency with this man.
Finally, the theme of betrayal is rampant in this movie. Not only from the good guy's point of view, but even the bad guys are betrayed in ways they never expected. I thought it was interesting to show people on both sides of the fence feeling the ultimate sting.
Overall, this movie held my interest, and I enjoyed it. But I would have preferred a "cleaner" video and audio experience. And the script could have used a tweak or two. Still, the performances were incredible, and the complex themes handled well.
Happy to be Lean-n-Mean!