Take Back

★★★

I’m not gonna lie. I went into “Take Back” (now available in select theaters – including Studio Movie Grill (3535 W 86th St, Indianapolis, Ind.) – and on VOD) with fairly low expectations. The movie is a starring vehicle for Michael Jai White’s wife Gillian White. Despite being a big ol’ fan of MJW (seriously, if you haven’t seen “Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing” or “Black Dynamite” you owe it to yourself to do so), I feared this might be the latest instance of Hollywood nepotism – think every time Adam Sandler (another dude I actually dig) throws his talentless wife Jackie (sorry!) into one of his flicks. Turns out my fears were unfounded, White can not only act – she can also kick a metric shit-ton of ass.

Zara (White) is a successful lawyer living in Coachella, Calif. She’s married to Brian (MJW), a high school history teacher and martial arts instructor, and has a positive relationship with her stepdaughter Audrey (Priscilla Walker). Their lives are turned upside down when Zara comes to the rescue of a barista (Lucia Romero) who’s being violently accosted by her ex (Jay Giannone). Zara disarms and kicks the crap outta the creep. The confrontation is captured on the coffee shop’s security camera. Despite the presence of good police Detectives Schmidt (James Russo, best known for Westerns “Open Range” and “Django Unchained”) and Perez (Jay Montalvo), some cop leaks the footage to the press, which gives Zara unwanted media attention.

Turns out Zara is a sex trafficking survivor, which happened at the hands of dog-loving Patrick (Mickey Rourke) a few decades prior. She was only able to escape/survive by pumping a coupla rounds into Patrick’s torso. Unfortunately, Patrick survived his gunshot wounds, is currently an avid news watcher and sees Zara’s segment. He sends his goons (played by Jessica Uberuaga and Paul Sloan) to Zara’s office and home to harass she and her family. They ultimately wind up kidnapping Audrey and it’s up to Zara, Brian and Schmidt to get her back.

“Take Back” as directed by Christian Sesma (best known for making movies starring Luke Goss of Bros such as “Lost Time,” “AWOL-72,” “The Night Crew” and “Paydirt”) and written by first-time screenwriter Zach Zerries isn’t a good flick, but it’s undeniably an entertaining one.

White has a real presence and I must commend MJW for taking a backseat to his wife allowing her to shine. Rourke almost doesn’t look human here – he sorta resembles a wax figurine of himself melting or Leatherface wearing his visage as a mask. In spite of this, the cat still registers. He’s got a great voice. He plays with his dogs on camera. He makes his monster somewhat vulnerable. I also really enjoyed Chris Browning (Gogo on “Sons of Anarchy”) as Jerry Walker, Zara’s cowboy friend and business associate.

I’ll be honest with y’all, “Take Back” is probably more of a 2.5 star movie that I’m awarding 3 stars, but White’s Zara slits a dude’s throat with a pizza cutter – if ingenuity such as this ain’t worth half a star I don’t know what is!?!

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