Billy Dee Williams has played two of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. One of them being a character that has seen success in other mediums such as comics, novels, and video games. He even had a prequel story done about him; in which he was portrayed by Donald Glover. Williams, himself, will be returning to the part this December in Rise of the Skywalker. I’m talking of course about Lando Calrissian. While his other iconic turn wasn’t necessarily his performance but the character himself: Harvey Dent. Williams played Dent in both Batman ’89 & Batman Returns. Williams was supposed to play to Dent’s alter ego in a third installment of the Batman franchise at the point in time. Unfortunately, Williams as Two-Face is something we may never get to see.
An actor’s career can be filled with some much iconic characters that we forget they have a larger filmography than just one to two roles. Williams is no exception to this. Six years before he ever entered into a galaxy far, far away, he played a detective relocating to a new city in 1974’s The Take. The Take tells the story of Detective Sneed, a San Francisco cop played by Williams, relocating to a town in New Mexico. When there Sneed takes dirty money and yet still manages to catch the bad guy. Honestly, this plot feels like the opening episodes to Gotham. Sneed feels an awful lot like Jim Gordon walking that line between good cop and bad cop. Always willing to get dirty; yet never compromising your morals.
That alone is why this film is worth the watch. Williams is charming yet cunning. He’s the best part about the movie. His performance is entertaining and energic. Even from the first few moments of the film, you get an idea of just how he is as a character. While The Take has an amazing protagonist, it has just as equally strong antagonist in Vic Morrow’s Manso. Manso is a smart and cunning illegitimate businessman. Basically a drug pusher and a good one too. Morrow is extremely witty and intelligent with every frame that he is in. Managing to meet Williams at the same level and demonstrate just how good of a villain he can be.
Aside from Williams and Morrow though, this film doesn’t really have much life to it. While the plot sounds simple enough to comprehend, its delivery is anything but. It’s as if someone went into the future looked at how Michael Bay delivered the last three Transformers movies and said “let’s use this as our blueprint.” The Take is honestly more complex than it needs to be. While I understand character development and giving depth to characters outside of your general plot, how much is too much? For a 90-minute movie, Sneed has three plots going on at once. One with the police department, one with a love interest (who may or may not be one) and another with a building investor. It’s just too much plot for its’ short duration. Some of which never even coming to a proper close. Then on top of it, the delivery of almost everything in the film just feels so flat. Even during the action of the film, it just feels uninspiring and boring.
Overall, The Take, is an uneven mess. Led by good performances from protagonist, Billy Dee Williams, and antagonist, Vic Morrow – existing as the only redeeming factors of this film. The Take has an unnecessarily overcomplex plot with story arcs that aren’t even finished by the film’s ending. Filled with action and adventure that are uninspiring at best and a busy nature – The Take may be good with nostalgia but not with fresh eyes.
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