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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Track Down
Track Down
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // September 28, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted September 25, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
The true story of America's most famous hacker...sort of

The Movie
There's plenty of disagreement as to what Kevin Mitnick did and what he has been accused of, so any movie representation of his life is bound to annoy someone. Track Down (originally titled Takedown and changed for some unknown reasons for the home video release) certainly annoyed the hacking community in the way they tackled the story. Of course, Hackers did the same thing years ago. But that movie has a very loyal audience, unlike Track Down, despite it being released as a bootleg titled Hackers 2. Why? I'm not quite sure.

Mitnick (Skeet Ulrich, Scream) is driven by the same desire as most hackers, the desire to access any and all information. Since most information in our society is locked behind passwords or vault doors, you have to become a criminal to reach the information you desire to obtain. In doing so, he ends up on the wrong side of the law, and is placed on probation. As seen in Hackers, old hacking habits die hard, and Mitnick is soon on the lam, avoiding the police and the FBI. With help of his pal Alex (Donal Logue, The Tao of Steve), he avoids capture. That's when Tsutomu Shimomura (Russell Wong, The Joy Luck Club) steps in.

As a government expert on computer security, Shimomura is in Mitnick's crosshairs, and the battle becomes personal between them. A game of cat-and-cat-and-mouse between Mitnick, the FBI (represented by Tom Berenger and Happy Gilmore's Christopher McDonald) and Shimomura's group (including rapper Master P and Mallrats's Ethan Suplee) makes up the bulk of the movie, except for a small romantic portion with Mitnick and Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards.) It's obviously an attempt to humanize him, but at the same time show his obsession. Unfortunately, it just comes off as awkward though.

Anyone familiar with the case (and you really would have to be to have much interest in this movie) already knows what's going to happen, so the selling point is how the story is told. Director Joe Chappelle ("CSI: Miami") and cinematographer Dermott Downs ("CSI: NY") gave the film an exciting look that, while not touching the extremes of Hackers' 3-D hacking, is better than watching someone type on a computer. The acting is generally good, though I couldn't take the FBI agents seriously and Logue is wasted in this role.

The usual "true life" rest-of-the-story codas are included here, but Track Down doesn't feel complete when the credits role. Considering the amount of effort that goes into the hunt, the finish of the movie makes it feel like a wasted effort (on both Shimomura and the audience's part.) Sure, there's plenty of tension and excitement, but it doesn't seem to add up to anything. Sneakers is a better bet for anyone looking for a computer movie.

The DVD
On one DVD, you get the movie and a couple of bonuses. The anamorphic widescreen menus are static, with English and Spanish subtitle options and scene selections.

The Quality
For a recent movie, this movie could look a lot better. There's plenty of grain (highly obvious during the final scene), along with dirt and other damage. It's not the worst transfer in the world, but if you're anal and these things bother you, it will distract you. As far as the soundtrack goes, the 5.1 Surround feed is actually pretty deep, with lots of activity to the sides and rear. Like Hackers, there's plenty of electronica used in the soundtrack, and the sound gives the movie the right feel.

The Extras
There's only one extra related to the movie, and that's a behind-the-scenes look at the movie, misleadingly titled "Behind the Kevin Mitnick Story." With interviews with the cast and crew, it's not really a look at the actual events, but an EPK-style featurette. There are also three Buena Vista trailers, but unfortunately Track Down's is not here.

The Bottom Line
While Track Down has taken liberties with what really happened in the Kevin Mitnick case, the general story is still essentially true. Mitnick hacked, Shinomura helped catch him and America discovered the power of the Internet. The film amps up the drama, attempting a more realistic look at hacking than Hackers, and in that respect it succeeds. On a whole though, it falls a bit short, especially considering the well-known cast and talented director. Perhaps it's just hard to make a great movie about people behind keyboards.


Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter


*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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