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.

Halloween Sccene: Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

2008-12-03
4:31:42 am

Wow. Faithful readers will remember that I was pleasantly surprised watching the Halloween sequels by how much I liked them. Well, that all changed with the fifth. The best part about Curse is Paul Rudd, an actor I love in his comedic rolls (Wet Hot American Summer, Knocked Up, Friends, etc.). Rudd plays Tommy Doyle who you may remember as the kid Laurie’s babysitting in the original flick. Well, now he’s a melodramatic college student obsessed with Michael Myers. Rudd jumps into the role with an intensity that gives Donald Sutherland’s Loomis a run for his money. Seriously though, as bad as the movie is, it’s kind of worth it just to watch Rudd.

Of course, that might not be enough for most people and I don’t blame ’em as there’s all kinds of craziness going on. First off (not chronologically, of course, just the first thing to pop into my head as I watched this movie over a week ago), the Myers house is being lived in by Laurie Strode’s adoptive family the Strodes. Now, this is incredibly frustrating on a few levels. First off, it looks absolutely nothing like the house. It’s the wrong shape, the wrong color, the rooms are different, the basement is different and the yard is the wrong shape. Maybe you’re average viewer wouldn’t notice something like that, but your average Halloween fan will. Oh, also, the Strodes appear to have no knowledge of Michael Myers and the dad is a complete jerk. He’s close to unbearable to watch.

Really, the only reason they’re in the movie is to have some weird connection to Laurie, oh yeah and their daughter has a kid who has some unexplained connection to Michael which leads him to wander over towards the killer at times. What?! It makes no sense and the only purpose it serves is to get his mom closer to Michael.

So what’s the plot? To be honest I’m not all the way sure. In the beginning you’ve got Michael’s pregnant niece Jamie as a teenager. Some weird dudes in robes kidnap her and force her to give birth in their weird warehouse place. Jamie eventually escapes with her baby but dies. Somehow (I can’t really remember, to be honest) Paul Rudd winds up with the baby. Meanwhile, Loomis is on the hunt as Michael starts attacking again, older and crazier than ever. Loomis is dealing with a doctor (played by Greg’s dad from Dharma and Greg) who SPOILER turns out to be head of the cult.

We also find out that Michael appears to be related to some kind of druid curse, which is an element I actually liked as it’s a fairly creative use of what’s been laid down before it and makes sense (like a Geoff Johns comic). Anyway, it gets fumbled by the poor directing. The whole movie looks like it was made for TV instead of the big screen (which may have been the case as I don’t really remember seeing ads for this movie in 1995, but hey, my memory sucks).

Meanwhile, the rest of the movie gets pretty well fumbled as there’s no real ending (apparently Sutherland passed away during filming and they didn’t really have an ending so they just threw something together, ugh). Michael does way too much corpse-posing which is an element I appreciated in the early films, but after watching 6 or so Friday the 13th movies, it’s getting old. That added to the poor choice for the Myers house and the general lack of likable characters and a coherent plot really make this a disappointing finale to the original Halloween series. I’m still waiting to watch H2O and Resurrection (or whatever it’s called), but I’m not really looking forward to them which is why I’m taking a bit of a horror break to watch some (hopefully) good action movies.