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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Animated menus
  • Dolby Digital trailer
Takedown (Rental)
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . M15+ . PAL


While some of us think we’re kick-arse hackers simply because we managed to get rid of that confounded blue and green toolbar atrocity Windows tries to glue into our systems, the big wide world holds lots of really kick-arse ones. Those types who are able to nimbly let their fingers do the walking and hippety-hop into pretty much any computer that’s within earshot of a phone line with just a few clickety-clacks – those like Kevin Mitnick, apparently the only hacker to have ever made the FBI’s most wanted list.

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Oh come on Google, the words for Rubber Duckie must be out there somewhere!

Here we have a story said to be based on the real-life exploits of Kevin, but it seems that certain liberties have been taken here and there, no doubt to both dumb it down and glam it up a bit for cinematic consumption (ahem, it didn’t work). Some may say Kevin was a kind of Robin Hood style of hacker, for despite his ability to go nuts in the filching money department, he resisted the urge simply as he got off on the thrill of the chase. And it’s a good thing he did, for he certainly got chased…

Things all take place in the early ‘90s – when Windows ‘95 was but a twinkle in a boffin’s eye. A failed FBI sting actually leads our protagonist to discovering something he shouldn’t - some phone tapping type doobrie called an “SAS system” (strange, I always thought that was a Scandinavian airline) – which only serves to piss the feds off even more. Then there’s top computer security guru Tsutomu Shimomura, who also gets hacked at the hands of Kevin – and has stuff he was really quite intent on keeping hidden. With all manner of ticked off folk hot on his heels, Mitnick starts trekking all over the US, hackety-hacking as he goes and trying to stay one step ahead. But this is a true story; we know he got pinched eventually and subsequently jailed; however there is at least some thrill in this dramatised chase.

In all it’s quite a scattershot affair, often utilising whiz-bang effects trickery in attempts to hide the frequent mishmashery – after all, there is that classic warning sign of four writers all having a go at the script (based on a novel by the real life Shimomura). Still, Skeet Ulrich as Mitnick puts in a decent, cocky performance, certainly never playing his role as if he’s any sort of hero (in fact many a time he’s decidedly un-likeable), and a few around him, notably Russell Wong as Mr Super Security and Chris McDonald as unlit cigar-chomping FBI agent Mitch Gibson, do what they can to deliver something which more than vaguely resembles entertainment.


It’s nice that Takedown hits our home screens in its “original theatrical ratio”, for it’s doubtful it saw much of the world of garish carpet and popcorn stench in its day. Anamorphically enhanced at a ratio of 1.85:1, the picture is reasonable, delivering an interesting palette of colours as there’s so much use of filters throughout – in fact for a while there it looks a bit like the whole thing was processed through urine. The blacks are good and the many rapid cuts and flashy dissolves are handled well; however there’s quite the number of sizeable white blots popping up here and there throughout, which tend to be quite distracting at times (especially considering how dark much of the film is – not to live up to any hacker stereotypes or anything). Stuffed onto a single-layer disc there are no transfer process dramas worthy of mention and naturally no layer change.

The sound comes via Dolby Digital 5.1, and it’s really quite a wow of a mix. Right from the get-go sonic whooshes engulf the room, reappearing regularly throughout, whilst the subwoofwoof gets to go a bit spare on many of the sound effects and the bassier bits of the soundtrack that’s riddled with bands nobody (most likely including their mothers) has ever heard of. Chris Holmes’ score is what you’d expect for such a film – all synthy, technoish and decidedly non-organic - and all is synched to perfection throughout.

Extras, extras extras… hmm. An animated intro? Nup, not worth mentioning. That blasted Dolby Digital City trailer? Don’t get us started…

It’s no Wargames, but Takedown has its moments and is an easy way to pass away an hour and a half of your life. If nothing else it’s nice to know that even the super-nerds out there can still be susceptible to that dreaded blue screen of death…

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  •   And I quote...
    "It’s no Wargames…"
    - Amy Flower
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