The world of hackers and digital information brokers is a fascinating one. It is truly outstanding how information has become the currency that really moves the world, and it goes for the highest values in the markets. Biometrics and metadata are all incredibly valuable to companies to know exactly what customers want and increase their sales further and further into their max-profit territory. However, to access this data, companies sometimes go into unethical practices. The Takeover, a new cyber-thriller on Netflix, explores the concept with mixed results.
The film is directed by Annemarie van de Mond and stars Holly Mae Brood, Géza Weisz, Susan Radder, Walid Benmbarek, and Frank Lammers. The film tells the story of Mel, an ethical hacker who, along with her friends, has been stealing from the rich and criminals and giving to the poor. One day, they mess with the wrong people, and Mel is framed for a murder she did not commit. Now Mel must escape from the authorities who are looking for her, clean her name, and also stop the criminals from achieving their goals.
The Takeover premise sounds quite current, and for those in the know, what happens in the movie could have been just a recent headline in the news. This really gives the movie a good sense of reality, and it plays very well with what is happening right now on the internet. Companies are able to get everything from you, by looking at your search logs and a good deal of other info, so taking that to the next step, including getting your image for their corporate use, seems very “5 minutes into the future”. It could happen any day now.
The grounded feeling of the premise doesn’t make the movie a good one, though, but it isn’t bad either. The Takeover places itself among all those movies that feel rather empty and mediocre. The team is, of course, doing its best when it comes to a technical level. The movie looks solid, sounds solid, and the performances are solid as well; nothing to write home about, but not awful. However, the script really lets the rest of the production down. What could have been an interesting exploration of the subject soon becomes a standard action film with nothing to make it stand out.
The movie simply used the premise to start a chase that goes throughout the entire movie. The chase itself isn’t particularly interesting either. The characters go from one place to another, and even some plot points that are brought up as important fall through on the way. The movie isn’t really interested in creating a grand conspiracy and making it work through details; it just wants the perception of that conspiracy and works itself around it. The result is a plot that feels very generic.
Holly Mae Brood does a great job of being the protagonist of the movie. Her role as Mel is nice, but it is almost impossible to not see the character as a knock-off version of Lisbeth Salander. They share the look and attitude to a point. It is just too similar, and Salander already has that territory taken. It doesn’t mean that there can’t be more characters like Lisbeth. But it means that if you, as a writer, are going in that direction, you best make sure that you are going to be able to be at Lisbeth’s level or even surpass her. The script doesn’t allow Mel to do any of that.
If there is something that is very nice about the movie, it is that it shows that the Netherlands is ready to tackle different genres. We all love a good drama or a cute comedy, but it is very disappointing that most of the action movies are being left in the hands of the same old players. We need new voices to inject new blood into the genre. It is hard, of course. More than any other genre, action requires a level of expertise that isn’t easily achievable. There are a lot of talented people that need to be involved on a technical level.
Outside of Brood, the rest of the cast does a good job, but again, the script by Tijs van Marle, and Hans Erik Kraan lets the characters down. There are a couple of great actors here that are left to do basically nothing throughout the movie other than gawking at the screen. There are too many characters and a too little story that can support having them all get their moment to shine. The ending of the film totally tries to set up sequels. However, if they really want to make this into a franchise, they need to work on a better story that has more depth than this one, or that boat will never sail.
The Takeover is a very generic cyber-thriller that ends up evolving into a generic action film as well. The premise and the idea of it are pretty cool, but the movie never manages to explore that idea, and we are only left with an execution that feels very shallow in all aspects. This is a good movie to kill the time for 90 minutes, but once the credits roll, you will probably forget everything about it.