'The Take'

Empty

A genre film with moody overtones, "The Take" is more interested than most of its peers in letting motivations steep before bubbling into action. Short on sensational elements but involving, it won't set multiplexes on fire but should make a decent showing thanks to its cast and plot.

John Leguizamo plays Felix, a working-class family man in East Los Angeles whose job as an armored car driver sets him up for hijacking by Adell (an underwritten thug role, underperformed by Tyrese Gibson). After robbing Felix's employers, Adell's crew sets Felix up to be blamed and shoots him in the head.

The slug doesn't kill Felix, but it does little for his personality: After surgery and therapy, he suffers from mood swings and an aching need to see his assailants caught. Soon he begins to suspect that police detectives are too focused on him as the possible robber to worry about the real crooks, which exacerbates tension at home.

The bulk of the film watches nervously as Felix's wife Marina (Rosie Perez) tries to maintain normalcy while her husband struggles with physical problems only made worse by his bitterness. The formerly loving dad lashes out at his kids, gets drunk and smashes the television, and develops a fondness for Vicodin that Marina (a nurse) thinks is unhealthy.

Marina eventually packs up the children and leaves, triggering the developments that action fans will be waiting for. "Take" turns into a revenge movie, with Felix setting out on a muddle-headed investigation to clear his name by finding and repaying the man who wounded him. The film has cut away a few times to Adell's crew, either to remind us they exist or to offer a bit of violence to keep the kids awake, but now they're front and center.

Debut feature director Brad Furman offers some convincing local color (filmed on location in Boyle Heights) as Felix takes his uncertain steps along the Charles Bronson path, with gritty photography occasionally turning woozy to remind us of his deteriorating mental and physical state. The plot holds no surprises, but the eventual climactic foot chase and showdown suffice (if barely) to satisfy genre expectations.
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