A group of rebellious rich kids are forced to work together when the boot camp they are sent to by their parents is taken over by a group of criminals so that they can be used to collect a hefty ransom in Jim Gillespie’s Take Down.
The avatar for the audience in this film is Kyle Hartmann (Jeremy Sumpter) who is sent to this boot camp after his reckless behaviour goes too far. Sumpter does a good job with what he’s given but Kyle intially doesn’t do much beyond complain and act defiant for the sake of it despite it being obvious that it won’t get him anywhere. Being impetuous is basically his defining trait and the film uses any opportunity to remind us of that fact.
As such he is clearly being set up as the reluctant hero in all of this. When the hostage situation happens he is the only one who manages to avoid it and has to figure out how to outwit a group of highly trained criminals with almost no training or visible skills of his own.
Despite the thin characterisation I was pretty on board with Kyle and his character story even though it was painfully predictable at points. Sumpter is enough of an engaging presence to carry something like this without letting the character become entirely unlikeable.
The other characters are a mixed bag with only Phoebe Tonkin’s Amy Tilton receiving anything resembling a character arc. That arc is pretty much to be Kyle’s love interest but she fares better than Dominic Sherwood’s James Herrick or Ed Westwick’s Billy Speck.
As an ensemble cast they work fairly well. Any scenes that they are together are fairly entertaining with a solid dynamic developing within the group. They may all be thinly defined but the interactions are enjoyable nonetheless.
Despite the fact that the hostage situation is what the film is supposed to be about it is surprisingly uninteresting. When it happens it seems to come out of nowhere. I wonder if this was added in because someone decided that a bunch of bratty rich kids learning how to straighten themselves out wasn’t enough to carry the story. I was much more interested in the rich kids removed from all of their comforts and forced to learn how to function as reasonable human beings than I was the hostage situation. A big problem is that there wasn’t a lot of time spent establishing how the situation would work despite showing how the parents reacted. It didn’t seem to be a well thought out plan considering the resources all of the wealthy people would have at their disposal.
That’s not to say that the actual situation doesn’t work. The criminals feel like a credible threat even if they are foiled a little too easily and the action is well put together with plenty of tension and thrills throughout. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s definitely the right way to go.
The film wears its influences on its sleeve in a good way. It’s clear that the aim is to emulate Die Hard and The Hunger Games in many ways and it mostly succeeds in referencing those films without feeling like a carbon copy.
An entertaining experience despite some glaring flaws with the characterisation and storytelling. The hostage situation part of the story feels like it comes out of nowhere and the criminals are foiled a little too easily by a group of bratty rich kids. The action is well done and the group dynamic between the kids is the best thing this film has going for it. It isn’t going to set the world on fire but it’s a solid viewing experience
- the group dynamic between the rich kids
- solid action
- the hostage story feeling like it comes out of nowhere