The Take



Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- A genre pic with moody overtones, "The Take" is more interested than most of its peers with 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 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 him 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 a suspect to worry about the real crooks, which exacerbates tension at home.

The bulk of the film watches nervously as Felix's wife Marina, played by 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 grows fonder of Vicodin than Marina (a nurse) thinks is healthy.

Marina eventually packs up the children and leaves, triggering the developments action fans will be waiting for. "The 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, whether 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 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.

Screen Gems
Ithaka Films
Director: Brad Furman
Writers: Josh Pate, Jonas Pate
Producers: Braxton Pope, Andrew Weiner
Executive producers: Matthew Hatchette, Steven Quarles
Director of photography: Lukas Ettlin
Production designer: Charisse Cardenas
Music: Chris Hajian
Co-producer: John Saviano
Costume designer: Estee Ochoa
Editor: Edie Ichioka
Felix: John Leguizamo
Adell: Tyrese Gibson
Marina: Rosie Perez
Agent Perelli: Bobby Cannavale
Agent Baxter: Matthew Hachette
Marco: Yul Vazquez
Running time -- 99 minutes
No MPAA rating