Review

Even Idris Elba can't elevate the routine action-thriller 'The Take'

Imitating the Bourne capers rather than establishing an identity of its own, “The Take” is a strictly by-the-numbers political thriller that fails to capitalize on Idris Elba’s formidable screen presence.

The British actor plays a brooding CIA operative whose rep for being reckless and irresponsible has landed him behind a desk in Paris.

But he finds himself back on the street, teaming up with an American pickpocket (Richard Madden) who gets more than he bargained for when he snatches a booby-trapped bag. The reluctant bomb mule (Charlotte Le Bon) to whom the bag belongs has second thoughts about carrying out a terrorist attack at a political party office.

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It soon becomes apparent that there’s much more at stake than meets the eye, as mounting duplicities and double-crosses surround the country’s upcoming celebration of Bastille Day (the international co-production’s original title).

But even with that built-in ticking clock, the film feels like it’s merely biding its time until the next requisite action sequence.

Although director James Watkins, who helped Daniel Radcliffe shake Harry Potter with “The Woman in Black,” admittedly choreographs those chases with some visual panache, the dramatic element constantly drags its heels.

More problematic is the strained buddy comedy repartee foisted upon Elba and Madden by screenwriter Andrew Baldwin. By the time Bastille Day arrives, this would-be nail-biter has conveyed all the pulse-pounding intrigue of a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

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‘The Take’

Rating: R, for violence, language and some nudity 

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: In general release

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