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. Renny Harlin's Cleaner is one such example: It's a so-so movie that's probably worth seeing just for the performances of Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris. Brad Furman'sThe Take is another one of those flicks: It's got a passably compelling story, a half-decent screenplay, some nifty touches from a young director ... and a lead performance by John Leguizamo that's really quite excellent.
Written by Josh and Jonas Pate (Deceiver), The Take opens by introducing us to a firmly middle-class (but entirely admirable) nobody: Felix De La Pena (Leguizamo) is an armored truck driver who gets kidnapped and shot in the head during a vicious robbery. Against all odds, Felix survives and (with the help of his devoted wife Marina) slowly starts down the road to recovery. But Felix isn't the same man anymore. Although he's still able to walk, talk, drive and otherwise function pretty reasonably, he's also quite a bit "slower" in the head ... plus he's now fostering one nasty little temper. Meanwhile the brutal crook who led the robbery (Tyrese Gibson) is busy tying up a bunch of loose ends -- and you just know the two men are bound to butt heads again.