The Take


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Every once in a while, my practice of looking through all the  new releases can produce some unexpected pleasures. I had no special expectations for The Take, but this low budget indie turned out to be an good crime drama which held my interest from start to finish.

John Leguizamo plays a family man who is a straight-arrow guard for an armored car company. One Friday there is an is ambush and the guard is shown proof that the robber's accomplices are holding his family hostage, just in case there are any lapses in his co-operation. He dutifully executes his normal daily run, and helps the baddies unload the truck full of cash, but the robber turns out to be a homicidal maniac who blows away everyone at the armored car HQ, including Leguizamo.

Short movie?

No, not quite. The guard lives, despite a bullet in his brain. That's the good news. The bad news is that he has been framed for the crime. A sharp FBI agent (Bobby Cannavale) smells something fishy, and does not arrest the guard, but he decides to keep a close eye on him because he seems to be keeping secrets. The guard IS keeping secrets, in a sense, but they are also secrets from himself. The bullet in his brain impaired several of his normal brain functions, including short-term memory and reasoning skills. As the investigation begins, the guard is not really capable of understanding exactly what happened, or that a dangerous psychopath still lurks in the shadows, waiting for a chance to remove a witness who has seen his face.

The other key brain function which the guard can't gain control of is his temper, so he's not pleasant to be around, and his wife ends up leaving him. In danger of losing his family permanently, being killed by a sociopath, and/or and ending up in prison for a crime he doesn't think he committed, the guard must somehow try to piece together enough dribs and drabs of memory to convince the FBI that he's an honest man and is probably in danger himself.

The premise is difficult to accept. There's the overworked memory loss gimmick plus the ol' "accused man solving the crime on his own to prove his own innocence" cliché, so the film requires a great deal of "suspension of disbelief." Despite those liabilities, this film is quite satisfying, absorbing, and three-dimensional, so much so that I completely forgot that it had some problems to begin with. The director did a helluva job for his first feature-length drama, and showed how a well-crafted film with some good actors can deliver a lot of bang for a small buck. Scene after scene crackles with tension, and the three main performances (Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale) are absolutely natural and spot-on, which really helps to make the contrived premise seem credible. Rosie Perez has talked about how difficult it was to do the graphic sex scene with her platonic friend John Leguizamo, but the two of them seemed to deliver the scene with just the right edge.

Since the film functions both as a psychodrama and a police procedural, and since the guard is faced with constant threats from so many directions, there is no possibility to lose interest. Once we are put inside the guard's situation, we will see it through with him, particularly since we know even more about his innocence than he himself knows. He gets ornery and crazy from time to time, and even beats his beloved wife when he gets a particularly painful headache, but we don't turn against him or start to dislike him because our identification with him and his situation is so complete that we accept it as valid character development. He's a complex character forced by his situation into certain forms of unacceptable behavior.


* widescreen anamorphic

* full-length commentary with the director and cinematographer

* behind-the-scenes featurette.




There are no graded reviews online, but the film was reviewed by the NY Times, The Village Voice, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Those reviews are linked from the IMDb page.


5.2 IMDB summary (of 10)
  It's better than that.


There are some legitimate reviews online which indicate that there must have been a tiny theatrical run, but Box Office Mojo has no record of it.


  • Rosie Perez shows her breasts and bum in a sex scene, and a side view of her breasts in a shower scene.
  • John Leguizamo shows his bum in the sex scene.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A worthwhile crime drama/ psychodrama.