John Leguizamo needs his own kind of wing in some Movie Hall of Fame. I would not say it is a typical wing, but a varied and interesting one nevertheless. He’s done mainstream movies like Ice Age, Moulin Rouge, & the Happening. John has also found himself in roles you just don’t see everyday. He’s been a Clown (Spawn), a Drag Queen (To Wong Foo), and even a Mario Brother (You really think I would fail to mention that John was Luigi in Super Mario Bros?). In The Take, he has a different character to portray. It’s a serious role and requires him to make quite the transformation and bring home an award winning performance.
John plays Felix De La Pena. Felix is an armored car driver, has a wife named Marina (played by Rosie Perez) and has two kids named Rosey & Javy (played by Jessica Steinbaum & Taylor Gray). First detail of logic: Would it not be easier if Rosie’s character was called Rosey & Jessica could have been Marina? Then again, if it was up to me I would have called Rosie the Hispanic Betty Boop. Anyhow, Felix goes to work and while one of his buddies gets out of the car to grab lunch, Adell Baldwin (played by Tyrese Gibson) gets in the cab of the armored car and points a gun into Felix’s face.
Adell seems to know everything about Felix from his family, his schedule and even the fact that he likes the Los Angeles Dodgers. Heck, I would have shot him on the spot for that. Adell wants Felix to make his regular runs and then drive back to the armored car company’s headquarters. There Adell and his comrades will raid the place and steal all of the cash. In exchange, Felix’s family and he will be spared. Things go fairly normal until they get back to the headquarters. Felix parks inside and Adell gets him to ask one of the other guards for “special help” with the bags. This leads to an assault on the other guard and chaos ensues. The place gets ransacked, money gets robbed and the final gun shot is in the head of Felix. Felix, in a comatose state, is rushed to the nearby hospital.
Apparently, he is still alive as he was shot in the frontal lobe and the bullet exited clean. Second detail of logic: He got shot in the head, at close range. Is he made of liquid metal ala T-1000 or did I miss something? However, when Felix wakes up, he is different. His personality is basically the same, but added to that he has violent mood swings (and apparently likes to mow the law in a bathrobe and a very small pair of skivvies). As Marina and the family tries to cope with the “new” Felix, the cops investigate the crime. The investigation is lead by Agent Steve Perelli (played by Bobby Cannavale ) who starts to place blame at Felix’s feet. His reasoning is that Felix had a perfect plan and the ultimate defense.
Third point of logic: The perfect plan and ultimate defense is pretty easy to see. However, who would actually shoot themselves in the head just to have an alibi and not be caught? I understand this is John Leguizamo and he can do anything. But come on, is there a criminal handbook that states “When you are certain you will be caught, shoot yourself in the head and make sure the bullet hole exists the frontal lobe cleanly. If it does not, please repeat as necessary. This will be the ultimate defense once you wake up (fine print: we do not guarantee you will wake up).” Felix quickly realizes that in order to clear his name and resume his life, he must fight his mood swings and track down the one who really did this, Adell. Thus starts the tale of a man in conflict with his emotions, his sanity & his quest to catch the perpetrator.
The movie isn’t half bad. I know I poked a lot of fun in the above passages, but there is some solid acting here. John Leguizamo turns in a believable and strong performance as does Rosie, Tyrese, and Bobby. My main problem is that the logic isn’t there which falls on the shoulders of the writing & directing staff. Since it is filmed in East L.A., the film gets the stereotypical gritty style. Shaky cams and all. Translation: Low budget flic. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the film should have focused more on the performances of John or Rosie, not on how urban we can make the film look. Despite this, the film has strong points but it is all cast related. The story feels piece-mealed together (this is even admitted in the commentary as it was assembled from multiple versions of the script). Much like Felix’s transformation and mood swings, I found myself liking the movie and hating the movie from one five minute scene to the next.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. As mentioned above, the film has the shaky cam feel which makes for a very grainy film. The detail isn’t as good as you would have hoped and some scenes look awful. Of course seeing John in his underwear and Rosie not fully exposed isn’t going to do this picture any favors but this wasn’t very much to work with here.
The audio is provided in 5.1 English Dolby Digital with a Spanish 2.0 mix also included. The movie sounds pretty clear with dialog sitting in the center channel as needed. There aren’t many surrounds to go around even in the few action sequences. It is okay, just nothing spectacular. Subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Redbelt, Cleaner & Untraceable.
- Commentary w/ Director: Brad Furman & Cinematographer: Lukas Ettlin: A decent commentary even if it has a lot of holes and pauses. They tend to stay screen specific and on topic. Good for those looking to learn a little bit about the film.
- Deleted Scenes 3:31: Baseball Talk, Reading, Rosey Smokes & Felix is Paranoid. Not much here, but a couple could have been used for better character development.
- A Look Behind the Scenes 18:17: A typical behind the scenes promo. This movie was shot in a thug setting, but the directors are very very white. I knew there was a problem.
- Previews: Blu-Ray Disc, Dirty, Redbelt, Cleaner, Untraceable, Hero Wanted, Diamond Dogs, The Tatooist, Impulse, Damages – Season 1, Rescue Me (Season 1 – 4), Pistol Whipped, The Contractor, Edison Force & Starship Troopers 3: Marauder.
There are some very good things to say about The Take. John Leguizamo does an excellent job. Rosie Perez is believable and puts on a strong performance. Tyrese Gibson is your typical thug and Bobby Cannavale is likeable even if his theories sound about as conceivable as how Felix lived in the first place. But the film tries to become too gritty, it tries too hard to be an urban flic and not centralize the film on its characters. I understand you are filming this in East LA and you are probably more worried about your cameras being stolen, but you could have shot this a little more stationary. Anyhow, the DVD is a mixed bag. The video and audio are okay at best but the extras genuinely look like they got a lot of attention. So, watch the movie for John. Watch the movie for Rosie Perez in an almost there shower scene, or just watch what happens to people who root for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That’ll teach them. Recommended for a rental on John Leguizamo rental day. (Rent Super Mario Brothers & get any of his other movies for free)
- DvdVerdict.com “Although it never really offers up anything original, the film’s focus on Felix’s crumbling mind makes it stand out and cleverly stays clear of the Death Wish territory lesser works would succumb to.”
- DVDinMyPants.com – “The Take (2007) isn’t a bad movie… in fact, it’s very watchable and Leguizamo is a much better actor than most people (including myself) give him credit for.”