Computer Movie: Track Down a.k.a. Takedown (2000)

track down poster One of my favorite movie subgenres has to be computer movies (heck, it’s got it’s own Category over there on the right). Favorite examples include WarGames, Sneakers, The Net and Hackers. It might seem inconceivable, but back then, the general public wasn’t sure what to think about all these people talking to each other over a mysterious new invention called the internet. Hackers — people who understood how computers worked and used their abilities either for good or ill — were as mysterious as comic book vigilantes, roaming the online landscape under the guise of colorful aliases. All of this mixed together for a new breed of films, ones trying to capitalize on the rising popularity and mistrust of computers, adding more traditional action elements  to thrill audiences. Some of them are actually solid films, some are fun cultural artifacts and some are ridiculous. I especially enjoy seeing how excited people got about the kind of technology that your phone surpassed about a decade ago.

Track Down, as it’s known on Netflix Instant, or Takedown, which it’s also called is one of these movies. Unlike the movies I mentioned above, I’d never heard of this one directed by Joe Chappelle (Phantoms, Fringe) and starring Skeet Ulrich, Russell Wong, Master P, Amanda Peet, Donal Logue, Jeremy Sisto, Christopher McDonald, Tom Berenger and Ethan Suplee. The film is based on the story of real life hacker Tsutomu Shimomura (Wong) working alongside the government to bring down legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick (Ulrich).

Obviously beefed up and made more theatrical, this is a pretty fun little movie. I like how they made the relatively boring idea of sitting-in-front-of-a-computer look interesting without getting into the craziness of something like Hackers. Ulrich also seems to be channeling his inner Johnny Depp throughout the film as the pressure of running from the government and going up against a talented adversary clearly wears on him. Chappelle also brings some style to the proceedings with the use of filters and whatnot. You might get sick of the color orange from the last 20 minutes or so, but at least he was trying something.

takedown poster

There’s actually a documentary called Freedom Downtime that a bunch of Mitnick’s supporters created in 2001 pointing out the inaccuracies of this film. I’d be interested in checking that out as I’ve been curious about Mitnick’s life for a while (I also want to read his books The Art Of Deception, The Art Of Intrusion and Ghost In The Wires). However, I still think it’s possible to enjoy this flick as its own entity that works as a take on actual events (it’s based on Shimomura’s book called Takedown), an action-thriller movie and a look at Hollywood’s reaction to computers.

If you dug the more serious elements of Sneakers and the look and feel of Hackers, then I think you’ll dig Track Down/Takedown.

What I’m Watching Part 2

2008-09-28
7:39:54 pm

One thing I recently realized is that there aren’t a whole lot of new shows coming out that I’m looking forward to. The new Christian Slater show looks pretty cool, so does Life on Mars, but they don’t start for a while. Mostly I’m excited for all the shows I dug last season to be back on.

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00

MY NAME IS EARL (NBC)

Earl started off the season with an hour long episode (just like The Office) and it was a good one. Earl ended up helping Seth Green, who, a few years ago was on the Make a Wish program. Earl stole the horse he was supposed to ride in a parade. Thinking Seth’s character had died, he tries to make it up to his mom, but she reveals that Seth is still alive. So, to cross Seth off his list, Seth asks if Earl will help him film his awesome action movie, to which Earl agrees and everyone in town does too. There’s a great scene where Randy (Ethan Suplee) does a number of different impressions, including a dead-on Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Great stuff. There’s a lot of fun, on the fly super low-budget filmmaking and Seth Green was fantastic as the excited filmmaker. There’s a pretty sad ending (which you can probably guess if you think about it, though I didn’t see it coming until about 2 seconds before). But man, what a great episode to a great show.

9:00-10:00

THE OFFICE (NBC)

The Office is probably my favorite comedy on right now and definitely up there in my all time favorites (though the original is up there as well). As far as I’m concerned they’re pretty much separate animals by now. If you’re a fan, check out the deleted scenes on the DVDs for even more interviews with your favorite background characters (mine is Creed). The season premier had a lot of excellent moments. Spoilers ahead. The through story is that corporate offered the branch that loses the most weight three extra vacation days, so everyone’s trying to loose weight in different ways. So, unlike most episodes, this one takes place over a month instead of a day or two. Also during this time, Pam’s in New York for the summer for art school and Angela (who got engaged to Andy and caught banging Dwight in the season finale last year) continually gives Andy trouble in planning the wedding (though he’s so in love with her that he doesn’t care) and pages Dwight for secret trysts in a room in the warehouse. And the final, fist pumping super-spoiler is that Jim asks Pam to meet him halfway at a rest stop for lunch and proposes to her. I get giddy when stuff like this happens, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out.

SATURDAY

11:30-1:00

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC)

As I mentioned before, I missed the previous two SNL episodes, but I was in last night and got to check it out. Anna Faris hosted and Duffy was the musical guest. As can be expected there were a number of political sketches, but I was impressed with the debate sketch because it didn’t seem to lean too much one way or the other. I think my favorite sketch involved Anna Faris and Keenan Thompson in a rowboat. I would link to it on Hulu, but it’s not on there unfortunately. I will say that there is singing, which I always enjoy.

I picked up Duffy’s record soon after it came out based solely on her first single “Mercy” which has been played to death on the radio (which is why I don’t listen to the radio anymore). Her performance was kind of weird. Her singing and her band were right on, but she had these weird sorta doo wop dance moves that came off as kind of robotic. Not sure what the deal was, if she was nervous or something, but it reminded me of when I saw Black Sabbath on their first reunion tour and Ozzy would do the same three or four things on stage over and over again.

I think this has been a pretty good period for SNL. The last few years have seen a bit of a shift in the kind of comedy they’re going for (thanks in large part, I think to Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Andy Sandberg and plenty of writers I don’t really know about), so I’m looking forward to seeing what else they’ve got planned this year.