by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Skeet Ulrich as KEVIN MITNICK
Russell Wong as TSUTOMU SHIMOMURA
Angela Featherstone as JULIA
Donal Logue as ALEX LOWE
Chris McDonald as MITCH GIBSON
Master P as BRAD
Tom Berenger as MCCOY ROLLINS
Studio: Dimension Films
Directed by: Joe Chappelle
Back to DVD Review Home
I was at my computer the other night, pretty late for a Sunday, frantically finishing a freelance assignment I had due this week. While surfing the Internet for research, I realized how much the future has become part of our daily life. Even as recently as my college days, I never thought I’d be able to work full time from my home, research and write articles and turn in assignments without leaving my desk.
Click here to read more DVD reviews!
Click here to read more movie reviews!
Click here to watch films by 7M Pictures!
Keeping this fact in mind - that we live in the age of information and computer networks - a film like “Track Down” is both creepy and mundane. It’s creepy because it shows the power people have if they can get access to your personal information. At the same time, it’s mundane because while identity theft is such a terrible thing, it’s not exactly a huge unbelievable surprise when it happens to people. It’s part of the dangers of daily life, as much as you’re in danger of having your wallet swiped by a pickpocket on the bus.
Originally (and inappropriately) billed as “Hackers 2,” “Track Down” has nothing to do with the original “Hackers” film. That’s probably why the DVD release doesn’t call it such. Made in the late 1990s, this film tells the story of how expert hacker Kevin Mitnick was eventually nabbed by the feds.
Part of what gives “Track Down” its cinematic bite is its fortunate cast, many of whom starred in the film before they really became famous. Actors like Donal Logue and Amanda Peet landed these roles before really making a name for themselves elsewhere.
“Track Down” stars Skeet Ulrich as computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, who has the FBI on his heels. Tom Berenger and Christopher McDonald play the stock federal agents who eventually track Mitnick down. They are assisted by computer crimes expert Tsutomu Shimomura (Russell Wong), who uses his powers of hacking for good instead of evil (insert dramatic music here).
The message of the film comes down very benevolently on Mitnick’s side. Like many techies, the filmmakers use kid’s gloves on Mitnick, implying that he did nothing more than expose the hidden secrets of corporations. I’m not an expert in the history of Kevin Mitnick. Heck, pretty much all I know about him I learned from the “Behind the Kevin Mitnick Story” in the bonus features of the DVD.
However, having been a victim of identity theft myself several years ago, I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for these people. Even if they don’t use the information they gather (as is claimed of Mitnick in the film and behind-the-scenes documentary), their tinkering just opens up doors for others to do so. Even in the film, they can’t prolong the story without having Mitnick clone cell phones and steal air time to keep in touch with his hometown buddy, Alex Lowe (Donal Logue). Ultimately, it’s only a small step from gleefully gathering data from a bank to racking up credit card charges across the U.S.
In general, “Track Down” works pretty well as a modern cyberthriller. Although it does take some liberties with reality in terms of how exciting it is to watch someone hack into a computer system (i.e., lots of fancy camerawork and cool sound effects as Skeet Ulrich types randomly on the keyboard), it’s a huge improvement over some of the dreadful hacker scenes in movies like “Swordfish” and “Eraser.” To its credit, “Track Down” is a lot better than the over-produced “Hackers.” It’s a heck of a lot more realistic and doesn’t over-mystify computer science.
One of the more interesting aspects of this film isn’t the chase between Mitnick and the feds, but rather Mitnick chasing down new technologies. The tricks he uses to get access and to swindle passwords and logins are quite clever. As cat-and-mouse movies go, you could do a lot worse. It’s not at the level of a major theatrical release, but that may have been part of the reason this film could be made how it was without making every hacking scene look like a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
The special features aren’t that special for this disc. The only extra thing you’ll find is the “Behind the Kevin Mitnick Story” documentary. It’s not a bad movie, but I’d have liked to have seen more stuff to round out the disc.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.