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The Take

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After he's shot during a heist in East L.A., an armored-truck driver wrestles with rehabilitation and tracking down the man who committed the crime.

Genre - Drama

Director(s) - Brad Furman

Writer(s) - Josh Pate and Jonas Pate

Cast - John Leguizamo, Tyrese Gibson, Bobby Cannavale and Rosie Perez

Blue Rider's Role - Post-finishing funds lender

Distributor(s) - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date - 2008

Synopsis - After being shot during a heist in East L.A., an armored-truck driver (John Leguizamo) struggles through rehabilitation and starts tracking down the man who committed the crime (Tyrese Gibson), before he succeeds in framing him for the crime.

Festival Screening and Release Data
The Take played at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2007. It was released in New York and Los Angeles on April 11, 2008. It grossed $6,627 during a two-week run and finished on four screens. Its North American DVD debut was on May 27, 2008. It had 2008 DVD premieres in Argentina, Greece, Hungary, Finland, Germany and Iceland.

Award nominations:
Rosie Perez received a 2009 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female nomination for The Take.

Critics Kudos:
John Anderson, Variety: "An unlikely but entertaining amalgam of 'Heat,' 'Memento' and 'Regarding Henry,' Brad Furman's streetwise caper drama 'The Take' is elevated by the potent performances of John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez and a momentum that seldom stops. Film should encounter solid critical and popular response.

"Leguizamo manages to make Felix's struggles convincing even as he investigates the murderous hijacking, bugs his own house, writes himself notes and tries to get out from under the accusations piling up on him.

"Perez has some very effecting scenes as Felix' wife, Marina -- it's when she gets fed up, scared and leaves with the kids that Felix turns into an avenging brain-damaged angel and gets into payback mode, storming across the city, looking for the thug who ruined his life.

"Production values are tops, and Lukas Ettlin's athletic camerawork -- coursing through the streets of Boyle Heights and other Los Angeles locations -- adds a kinetic element to a film that is half thriller, half psychodrama: As Felix struggles with his damaged brain, he is himself closing in on his would-be killer, a homicidal maniac named Adell (Tyrese Gibson). What Adell knows, and Felix doesn't, makes 'The Take' an often scary proposition, and several sizable steps beyond the expectations auds will have of similar revenge tales or melodramas in the 'hood.'"

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: "John Leguizamo knocks it out of the park as an armored car driver in The Take, which is quite a bit better than you'd expect from a low-budget thriller that's getting a token theatrical release a month ahead of its DVD debut.

"Debuting director Brad Furman is equally skilled at staging an extended chase sequence in a very gritty Los Angeles and depicting Leguizamo's family life. With nuanced performances by Rosie Perez as Leguizamo's wife and Bobby Cannavale as a sympathetic FBI agent - as well as Leguizamo's most impressive screen work to date - Furman is a director to watch."

Bob Baker, Los Angeles Times: "If you were going to show what happens to a man who loses the best part of himself, you'd want to cast John Leguizamo, who has spent his career leaping from one extreme characterization to another.

"Director Brad Furman, in his feature film debut, uses discipline and empathy to put the viewer in Felix's shoes. His Boyle Heights is authentic and his montage cutting between surgeons trying to rebuild Felix's brain and the hijacker savoring his triumph is intense.

"Screenwriting twins Josh and Jonas Pate give Furman the luxury of characters who struggle through life but don't give sermons about it. They are sensitive enough to touch anyone who has watched a loved one suffer from a brain disorder, and aggressive enough to put a slightly recovered Felix in the middle of a bloody gun battle that spills from Boyle Heights into downtown L.A.

"Leguizamo, who gained notoriety in 1991 with a play in which he portrayed all seven characters, is mature enough now to capture both halves of Felix. He prepares with an unspoken sense of dread for what seems certain to be a suicidal showdown. Jesus turned the other cheek, his wife tells him desperately. 'Jesus,' the new Felix answers gruffly, 'never got shot.'"

Chuck Wilson,The Village Voice ("The Take Doesn't Need Theatrics"): "Furman draws superb performances from Leguizamo and Perez, two actors whose hyperactive energy has often been a distraction. Here, they're centered and completely believable as a hardworking couple whose life has been turned inside out. Their warmth holds The Take together even in the home stretch, when the screenwriters shift into revenge-thriller mode and send Felix out across the city to hunt down the gunman. Furman stages the final foot chase with brio."

Rachel Saltz, New York Times: "More interested in the wages of violence than in the mechanics of revenge, The Take, starring John Leguizamo as an armored-car driver who survives being shot in the head, is not your average gun-toting vigilante movie. Made by the first-time feature director Brad Furman, the film, set in East Los Angeles, is strongest when depicting daily life and its disruption in a believable, working-class family.

"Mr. Leguizamo can sometimes seem too charged on screen, but here he gives a controlled performance as Felix De La Peña, a bright, jokey man whose temperament becomes combustible after he’s shot. (His supposedly diminished mental capacities don’t seem to affect him much beyond his being unable to recognize triangles.) Rosie Perez is equally good as his wife, and together the two have an easy chemistry.

"Mr. Furman, who also directs music videos, has given the movie, shot by Lukas Ettlin, a bleached-out, unglossy look. Occasionally the visuals seem overly stylized, but Mr. Furman knows enough to showcase his stars’ unvarnished performances.

The Take mostly steers clear of indie earnestness and sentiment, especially in the textured, unforced scenes of family life. Even in the vengeance plot, [however], you can see Mr. Furman trying to go beyond action-movie clichés."

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: "The Take offers John Leguizamo the opportunity to prove what he can do. He's certainly up for the challenge, throwing himself intently into his role as armored-truck driver Felix De La Pena. Perez and Leguizamo make an entirely believable couple, and director Brad Furman creates an intense undercurrent of intimacy between the audience and his haunted hero. More important, he was smart enough to give an underused actor a rare and welcome chance to take the lead and run with it."

John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter: "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 should make a decent showing thanks to cast and plot.

"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 eventual climactic foot chase and showdown suffice to satisfy genre expectations."

Scott Weinberg, Cinematical:
"One thing you'll probably notice if you watch a lot of festival movies is this: When you dig beneath the big-time, A-list, 'gala titles,' you come across a lot of medium-sized flicks that come from relative newcomers -- but feature some great work from veteran actors. Brad Furman's The Take is one of those flicks: It's got a compelling story, a decent screenplay, some nifty touches from a young director ... and a lead performance by John Leguizamo that's really quite excellent.

"The Take is half a semi-tragic character study about a man who just lost a small chunk of his brain -- and half a slow-burn revenge thriller. Leguizamo delivers some great work and keeps the story flowing with some intensity. Rosie Perez (as Felix's passionately devoted wife) and Bobby Cannavale (as a suspicious yet good-hearted FBI man) manage to add a lot to the proceedings, but The Take is Leguizmo's show all the way.

"The Take is a gripping little depiction of a post-traumatic man who desperately wants to remain honest and decent -- but feels compelled (both by anger and by injury) to exact some real justice.

"The Take is a perfectly watchable little character study/crime thriller that does give us a fairly interesting perspective on an often-told tale. And if you usually dig Leguizamo's work, then you'll definitely want to see this one.

David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews: "Before The Take undergoes one of the most jarring thematic shifts in recent history, the film comes off as a gripping little thriller that boasts a surprisingly strong performance from John Leguizamo. Director Brad Furman - working from Josh and Jonas Pate's screenplay - has infused The Take with an appropriately jittery sensibility, and there's ultimately little doubt that the film contains the seediest portrayal of Los Angeles since Harsh Times. The relentlessly gritty atmosphere works."

Ron Wilkinson, Monsters and Critics: "Indie director Brad Furman has unleashed a powerful low-budget thriller that makes good use of the talents of John Leguizamo as well as those of supporting performers Tyrese Gibson and Rosie Perez.

"Writers Jonas and Josh Pate have attempted to re-create the feeling of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep about the real side of life in the ghettos of LA. The filming is as gritty as the streets themselves, as the hand-held camera follows the lead through his day-to-day routine amongst the collapsing houses of his neighborhood. The camera textures are as interesting as the hero and the story combined. The flat lighting and grey LA haze make for the perfect palatte on which to paint the minimal experiences of minimum-wage parents trying to hold onto a dream.

"Rosie Perez does a good job as De La Pena’s wife, struggling to help him cope with his injury, but slowly buckling under the strain of his temper tantrums and increased drug use. Can she stay the course until he gets back on his feet? Or will she be dragged down with him as ghetto, poverty and circumstance conspire to destroy them both, and their family as well?

"The culmination of the film is a hand-held- filmed chase scene that is as good as it gets. Expertly done through every nook, cranny, stairway, fence and rooftop location imaginable, the film drives the harshness, pollution and degradation of the LA ghetto environment into every scene. The final showdown is realistic, without a bit of pretense. It is completely consistent with the chase itself and completely consistent with the characters. It is not over-dramatized but is still moving and powerful.

"Overall, the film is most notable as a good look at inner city life. It is also a reasonable inner city thriller. This is an excellent independent production and a very fresh look at camera and narrative method."

Christopher Armstead, Critics United: "Directed by Brad Furman, ‘The Take’ is a reasonably entertaining, very gritty film which has a few things that are working in its favor. One of these things would be the almost post-apocalyptic look that Furman has given Los Angeles, giving the film a very urban feel to it, similar to the David Ayer films of recent years. This, combined with general use of handheld cameras, added to the overall gritty tone and uneasy mood that is coursing throughout the movie. Another thing the movie benefitted from was another outstanding performance which John Leguizamo pulls from his arsenal of diverse talents. As the pre Lead-in-the-head wise cracking, easy going father and husband Leguizamo gives a performance in the style that most of us are familiar with coming this gifted entertainer, and of course he pulls it off with ease, but more surprising is the anger and hostility he’s able generate after Felix suffers his injuries. Leguizamo brings to the forefront in a completely believable manner his characters pain and pathology and his erratic behavior, including a lot of the less than sound decisions his character makes within the narrative. The marvel is that he was able to make the same character basically the same before and after despite the drastic behavioral changes.Tyrese Gibson did make a viable bad guy and at times was virtually unrecognizable. Academy Award nominee Rosie Perez also gives a fine performance as the loyal wife trying vainly to keep her family together despite the difficult situation they are going though.

"The Take’ was a fine film that was well paced and very well acted for genre, plus it had Matthew Hatchette in it who used to play for Jets. That in itself is almost enough to warrant a five star review."

Prairie Miller, News Blaze: "Funny man John Leguizamo gets in touch with his furious and fiery side in The Take, and that transitional extreme mood swing is surprisingly impressive. Together with the never disappointing Rosie Perez, this designated conjugal pair here set the sparks flying in multiple ways, as married with children inner city spouses in dangerous meltdown.

"Leguizamo's potent, multidimensional performance as a brain-injured Latino husband and father torn between his righteous rage and trying to make positive sense of a chaotic world, lends to this eloquent slice-of-life neighborhood mood piece a passion and depth that elevate it far above your typical crime drama."

DVD Verdict review: "John Leguizamo offers up one of his finest performances to date. Also worthy of a mention is Rosie Perez as Felix's wife, Marina. Perez delivers a suitably natural performance as a woman who, clearly terrified, not only by the attack on her husband, but also by the long-term implications on his behavior, fights to keep her family together in the face of adversity.

"Brad Furman, a first-time director, must be given credit for the performances he is able to draw out from his cast and for enriching the script's numerous high points with his obvious talent.

"Furman also shows a keen eye for the action set pieces that, though used sparsely, are undeniably effective. The robbery itself is a tense and gripping affair that is well-shot with a rightfully menacing performance from Gibson. Stepping up the action stakes is a masterfully shot chase sequence during the film's finale that takes everything that has gone before and distills it into 10 minutes of pure adrenaline.

"Moving along at a fair old pace, The Take is an engaging portrait of a man driven to extreme measures. 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.

"Sony has offered up an impressive 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer for The Take that gives a gritty feel to proceedings. The palette is like something from a Vertigo comic book, washed out and grimy. Detail is good and the picture is reasonably sharp throughout. In terms of extras, you get an interesting commentary from director Brad Furman and cinematographer Lukas Ettlin. The only other extra is a short behind-the-scenes featurette."

Johnny Web Movie House Commentary: "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.

"This film is quite satisfying, absorbing, and three-dimensional. 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, but we don't turn against 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."

Viewer Ratings:
As of August 3, 2009, more than 53.8% of the 774 viewers who had rated The Take at The Internet Movie Database gave it thumbs up, with 13.3% rating it a perfect 10. Males 17 and younger rated it highest (8.4 out of 10), followed by males 18-29 (5.6%) and males 45 and older (5.5).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Brad Furman (Fast Forward, The Stranger, Unbroken, Buried Alive in the Blues).

Written by Josh Pate and Jonas Pate (won French and Swedish best screenplay awards for The Deceiver and a MystFest Best Picture nom for The Grave; also created, exec produced and wrote 15 episodes of Surface and wrote and exec produced 10 episodes of Dragnet; wrote five episodes of G vs. E; Josh wrote two episodes of Moonlight; Jonas wrote an they also wrote ).

Stars John Leguizamo (Emmy for Freak; six other awards and 11 other nominations for works including Summer of Sam, King of the Jungle, Moulin Rouge, Spawn, Miracle at St. Anna, Spic-O-Rama, Sueño, Executive Decision and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; also appeared in Die Hard 2, Romeo + Juliet, three Ice Age films, Collateral Damage, Assault on Precinct 13, Land of the Dead, Doctor Dolittle, Carlito’s Way, The Happening, Righteous Kill, Titan A.E., Super Mario Bros., Spun, Casualties of War, Regarding Henry, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Groomsmen, Paraiso Travel, 12 episodes of ER, 10 hours of House of Buggin', eight episodes of The Kill Point, five episodes of The Brothers Garcia, three episodes of Miami Vice and 48 other movies and TV projects); Tyrese Gibson (won a major Italian award and six nominations for works including Waist Deep and Baby Boy 2; also appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers, Flight of the Phoenix, Annapolis, Transmormers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Death Race and Love Song); Bobby Cannavale (won two awards and four nominations for works including The Station Agent, Third Watch and Will & Grace; also appeared in Fast Food Nation, Snakes on a Plane, The Bone Collector, Shall We Dance, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Ten, The Guru, The Pomotion, The Night Listener, 10 Items or Less, Happy Endings, Romance & Cigarettes, 100 Feet, I'm Not Rappaport, Kingpin, The Merry Gentlemen, Night Falls on Manhattan, 38 episodes of Third Watch, 15 episodes of Will & Grace, seven episodes of Cupid, seven episodes of Trinity, five episodes of 100 Centre Street, five episodes of Ally McBeal, four episodes of Cold Case and 28 other movies and TV projects); Rosie Perez (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Fearless; 2009 Independent Spirit Award best supporting actress nomination for The Take; four other awards and eight other nominations for The 24 Hour Woman, Lackawanna Blues, In Living Color and Perdita Durango; also appeared in Pineapple Express, Do the Right Thing, White Men Can't Jump, Night on Earth, It Could Happen to You, Riding in Cars With Boys, Human Nature, The Road to El Dorado, Untamed Heart, Just Like the Son, All the Invisible Children, 32 episodes of In Living Color, six episodes of Lipstick Jungle, four episodes of Widows, four episodes of WIOU and 23 other movies and TV projects).

Cast also includes Roger Guenveur Smith (won Black Reel Best Actor award for A Huey P. Newton Story; three nominations for that film and Justice; also appeared in American Gangster, Final Destination, Do the Right Thing, Summer of Sam, Malcom X, Eve's Bayou, King of New York, He Got Game, Shade, Fighting, All About the Benjamins, Deep Coiver, Poetic Justice, Get on the Bus, School Daze, Tales From the Hood, 10 episodes of K Street, six episodes of All My Children, five episodes of A Different World and 29 other movies and TV projects); Yul Vazquez (nominated for SAG award for American Gangster; also appeared in War of the Worlds, Traffic, The Mambo Kings, Drowning Mona, Fresh, Bad Boys II, Runaway Bride, Nick of Time, Fast Track, Che, Anamorph, Man of the Century,The F Word, three episodes of Seinfeld and 36 other movies and TV projects), Carlos Sanz (Crank, Backdraft, The Package, Equinox, Beer for My Horses, Dishdogz, The Deadliest Lesson and 26 other movies and TV projects); Jake Muxworthy (I Heart Huckabees, Cradle 2 the Grave, Grind, Borderland, Asylum, The Art of Travel, Piggy Banks and 15 other movies and TV projects); Jessica Steinbaum (Wassup Rockers, Blood Deep); Matthew Hatchette (Doing Hard Time, Playas Ball, Extra Ordinary Barry) and Laurence Mason (Artificial Intelligence: AI, True Romance, The Crow, Ali, Hackers, Behind Enemy Lines, Public Enemies, The Keeper, 10 episodes of Prison Break, eight episodes of The Shield and 22 other movies and TV projects).

Executive Producers are Alexander Tabrizi (Bloodsport 2, Shooting Gallery, Framed, Body Slam, Bar Starz, Save Me, Cyborg 3: The Recycler, Justice, Stranger in the House, Partners and The Last Empire); Matthew Hatchette (debut); J. Boss (debut); and Steven Quarles .

Producers are Braxton Pope (Bondage, Penny Dreadfuls, Life is Hot in Cracktown, Hit and Run, Shrink, The Specials, what to do With Your Dead Hooker) and Andrew Weiner (Mail Order Wife, What to do With Your Dead Hooker, Tromeo and Juliet, The Tromaville Café, Penny Dreadfuls, Hit and Run, Bondage, ).

Original Music by Chris Hajian (Chairman of the Board, Naked States, Nothing to Lose, Inspector Gadget 2, Yonkers Joe, Homie Spumonie, Made Men, The Knights of Prosperity, Nursery University, Raw Nerve and 24 other movies and TV projects).

Cinematography by Lukas Ettlin (won 2001 ASC Heritage Award; also shot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Never Back Down, Fanboys, The Killing Room, Pirates, Fast Forward and 15 other movies and DVDs).

Film Editing by Edie Bleiman (edited Toy Story 2, Knight to F4, Twas the Night Before Bumpy and 24 episodes of Bump in the Night; also worked on The Godfather: Part II, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The English Patient, The Doctor) and Luis Carballar (won Mexico's Silver Ariel Award for Amores Perros and another nomination for Crónicas; also cut Unknown, Voces Inocentes, Powder Keg, Sin Nombre and Shrink).

Production Design by Charisse Cardenas (Emmy nomination for Arrested Development; also designed The Killing Room, Broken, Suspect, The Fix, nine episodes of Alias and seven episodes of Jericho).

Art Direction by Jenny Sterling (seven episodes of Jericho; assistant art director on Suspect, Spaced and three episodes of The Singles Table).

Costume Design by Estee Ochoa (Bondage, Cougar Club, Exorcist Chronicles, The Strand and Six Thugs).

Special Effects Coordinated by Guiliano Fiumani (The Lodger, Surfer Dude, The Neighbor, Too Loud a Solitude, Lonely Hearts, End Game, Bondage and The Cutter; also worked on Waterworld, The Core, Over Her Dead Body, She's So Lovely and 19 other movies and TV projects).

Visual Effects: Tom Howard (worked on 50 films, including Lions for Lambs, London, Hotel for Dogs, Alien Raiders, Dirty, shelter and West Bank Story).

Producer's Quote:
Braxton Pope: "THE TAKE was an arduous journey, and we battled everything from our lack of resources to our crew being attacked by gangbangers in LA's Boyle Heights neighborhood, where much of the film was shot. In an era of glossy, slick, contrived production, we really tried to make a culturally authentic, compelling and naturalistic film. Josh and Jonas Pate wrote a terrific script, John Leguizamo gave an incredible performance and Brad Furman, making his feature debut, really created something great."








Links:
Internet Movie Database entry for The Take

Official Site (Sony Pictures)

Myspace entry for The Take

Trailer

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