The movie that outraged the hacker community and served as a catalyst for our own documentary on the Kevin Mitnick story has finally (and quietly) been given a release in the United States.
"Takedown" was filmed back in 1998 amidst a good deal of controversy. Kevin Mitnick was still in prison and was unable to battle the negative portrayal the movie gave him. But computer hackers around the world were. A demonstration outside the Manhattan Miramax offices was successful in getting key elements of the script changed, such as a fictitious scene in which Kevin Mitnick bashed an adversary over the head with a garbage can lid. That adversary was Tsutomu Shimomura, a computer scientist who, along with New York Times reporter John Markoff, had put out the book "Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw" back in 1996 after Mitnick had been captured by federal authorities. The two had helped to find Mitnick while he was a fugitive. And where the book had all kinds of negative portrayals of Mitnick, the movie managed to come up with even more.
Throughout our documentary ("Freedom Downtime"), attempts were made to speak to anyone involved in the production of "Takedown," which was being filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina in the summer of 1998. We never got any sort of an answer and a promise for an interview with one of the producers was withdrawn by Miramax for unstated reasons.
When "Takedown" was finally finished, it only appeared in foreign markets, debuting as "Cybertraque" in France and airing on cable television in other countries. It made it to the States by way of peer to peer networks and through the magic of region free DVD players.
But now the wait for an official release is apparently over at last (if anyone was indeed actually waiting). Video Universe has news of a movie called "Track Down" to be available starting September 28. It's also available for pre-order on all sorts of other sites such as Amazon. Why is it now a "track down" instead of a "takedown?" It sounds like even to these people, Mitnick now appears to be less of a threat than originally portrayed. After all, you "take down" an enemy and "track down" an old acquaintance. Honestly, we have no idea why the title was changed but we doubt anyone is going to be fooled.
While we credit Miramax for the changes that were made to the script after our concerns were voiced, there is still much here that is inaccurate and downright insulting to Mitnick and those involved in his case. It's a real slap in the face to the hacker community and to acting in general, with Donal Logue being the only exception. This is one release not worth the effort of tracking down.