First off I need to thank Tyson over at headinavice.com for bringing my attention to this TV miniseries – I consider myself fairly well informed about Tom Hardy’s career, having been following it ever since I first saw his portrayal of Heathcliff in the 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Somehow The Take slipped under my radar however, and so when Tyson described it as Hardy giving his greatest ever performance, I went out and bought the DVD practically right away. The Take primarily follows two men; the just released from jail Freddie (Hardy) and his more business minded upstart cousin Jimmy (Shaun Evans) who begin using the connections to London’s criminal network that Freddie has made whilst inside. From there it spans across most of the eighties and the early nineties depicting an ugly and brutal tale of revenge, greed and violence. This series isn’t afraid to go to some pretty dark places, I won’t list examples in order to preserve their onscreen power but they are uncomfortable at best.
This period in Hardy’s career is my personal favourite; where he plays these dark and often tortured souls such as Heathcliff and Bill Sykes. He inhabits a permanently brimming, dark electricity which so often manifests itself into brutal physical violence, but what really makes these performances special is the emotional outbursts which these characters occasionally have – and Hardy is magnificent when portraying these. Still, all praise deserving it’s not completely about Hardy here, there are some great performances turned in by all the main cast; Shaun Evans and Kierston Wareing are both very good in their respective characters, Brian Cox is good if perhaps a little underused but Charlotte Riley is the one who comes away as second most noteworthy. She has to play through some extreme emotions and really delivers in every scene. I now need to revisit her Cathy to Hardy’s Heathcliff and try to assess my opinion of her performance there, because she really impressed me in The Take.
There are a couple of issues I had with The Take but the only really damaging one would be its score. It often plays ill-fitting songs over scenes of action, or more unforgivably, tension which does a major disservice to the piece. When it needed to rein it in and allow Hardy’s menace to thrill us, it would often instead make a damn good attempt at smothering his performance – not that it succeeds, but still it grates. The few small issues that I had with the programme itself are rendered pretty obsolete however when it comes to recommending this series – regardless of whether you are a Tom Hardy fan or not, his performance here demands attention and I doubt that you will regret giving it a try – even if the ugly violent side to The Take distresses you.