Monday, July 04, 2022

Take the Night: Criminal Sibling Rivalry

It is an unwritten movie law that whenever you have two brothers, one has to be a total screw-up and the other has to be responsibly boring. The two sets of brothers on each side of this abduction caper both conform to the unwritten law. The question is, who will be duller and who will be more recklessly negligent in Seth McTigue’s Take the Night, which opens in select theaters this Friday.

Among the Changs, Robert is the responsible brother, who inherited control of their father’s business, despite being the younger one. William clearly resents his brother, but he still does his duty planning his brother’s surprise birthday party.

He has this great idea to hire Chad and his gang to stage his brother’s phony kidnapping. However, surly Chad and his loudmouthed brother Todd plan to make it real. During the time they have Chang, they plan to loot the office of all the gold and crypto wallets, before cutting him loose. (Frankly, it is a little suspicious that they have so much in untraceable assets, just lying around the office, but whatever.)

The general premise is okay, but it takes McTigue half and hour just to get that far. This is a maddeningly sluggish film that really doesn’t have time to waste, considering it wraps up in less than 90 minutes. The symmetry of the sibling rivalry and father issues shared by both the kidnappers and the victims isn’t sufficiently interesting to carry the film. There simply is not enough suspense or forward momentum.

McTigue also does not do himself any favors playing the grim, charisma-challenged Chad. Brennan Keel Cook at least gets some energy going as the abrasively annoying Todd. Probably the best work comes from Sam Song Li and Roy Huang, as Robert and William Chang, respectively. However, both brothers are almost impossibly oblivious to the world going on around them.

Obviously, the intent here was for a stylish slow-burner in the Michael Mann tradition, but it didn’t turn out that way. The burn is too slow and it just isn’t stylish enough (even though cinematographer Rainer Lipski has a nice facility with the twilight and nocturnal scenes). It is all just too tepid and underwhelming. Not recommended,
Take the Night open this Friday (7/8) at the College Point Metroplex, before its 7/12 VOD release.