Track Down (aka Takedown) Joe Chappelle

Track Down is a movie based on a book written about a true story. Got that? Now it should be said that the book, the similarly named Takedown, has gotten some pretty serious flak for being a self-absorbed, one-sided account of what really happened. That said, it stands to reason that any film based on this book will inevitably receive similar scrutiny. Track Down, the movie, is essentially the story of Kevin Mitnick's capture, glossed up for the home viewer, as Hollywood is wont to do. Kevin Mitnick, for those whose interests stray away from techno-geekdom and the pages of Wired magazine, was a mad genius of a hacker who was eventually apprehended by the FBI and imprisoned. Actor Skeet Ulrich does an admirable job as Kevin, as does Russell Wong as Tsutomu Shimomura, but despite some well executed cat-and-mouse scenes, this feels like TV movie kind of stuff: a fun ride, but like the other "hacker" films that have been made over the years, it is glorified and impeccably dressed up, because we all know "real" hacking would be boring as hell to watch. Never mind that this is the Hollywood interpretation, so the lead actors have to be sexier than their real life counterparts, things have to move faster, be cooler and everything has to have that special crime thriller frenetic feel to it. And all those things combined serve to dilute the "based on a true story" essence of it. However, I will give director Joe Chappelle props for his effort to make the Mitnick character something other than a dimensionless bad guy (because in real life he was) and for his attempts to incorporate some of Mitnick's certainly illegal but, debatably, not truly criminal motives into the film. The DVD includes a bonus documentary called Behind the Kevin Mitnick Story, unfortunately it has little to do with the real-life Kevin Mitnick, as one might assume by the title (and hope for some additional perspective/background) but rather serves as a deceptively named "making of" featurette. If you're watching this for anything other than sheer entertainment, you'd probably get more out of reading up on the actual case. (Dimension)