THE TAKEOVER. “The Net” updated
Does anyone else remember Irwin Winkler’s thriller The Net (1995)? Sandra Bullock played a young programmer who, as a result of the discovery of super-secret information, gets entangled in a dangerous intrigue, becoming a criminal wanted by all law enforcement agencies. Annemarie van de Mond’s Dutch production The Takeover, which debuted on Netflix a few days ago, reminded me of it.
The story of hacker Mel Bandison (Holly Mae Brood), who, while carrying out a seemingly legal and official assignment, discovers a cyberattack on one of her clients, contains plenty of analogies to The Net. The girl is a loner, her only friends are – of course – other hackers and people associated with her professionally, both characters also share a fascination with computers. The main difference between these women is the era in which they work – the fledgling Internet in the mid-1990s did not give the character created by Sandra Bullock even a fraction of the possibilities that Mel has under the keys of her keyboard. So when she discovers the said cyber-attack on a client, she reacts instantly, sending the evil hackers a sophisticated virus. The girl is unlucky, however, because literally minutes earlier she unwittingly gives the cyber criminals access to her identity, and this opens up a whole range of possibilities for them to destroy Mel….
Circumstances are different, scheme remains the same – The Takeover is The Net updated to 2022 (and in the finale it mixes additionally with another classic with Sandra B., Speed). In Annemarie van de Mond’s film, everything has been digitized, and Internet installations are even in cars and buses; specifically, in one very important bus. With her laptop always tucked away in her backpack, Mel is much more mobile in her computerized activities, so there is much more “computer” action here than in Winkler’s film. Dutch The Takeover also has another advantage – the heroine of this one is more expressive. The opening sequence introduces us to the beginnings of her computer passion, while from Mel’s current “achievements” we learn that she is a hacker-idealist – together with her non-Dutch friends they attack companies that have something on their conscience, such as poisoning the environment. All these elements deliberately increase sympathy for the girl, who seems to be a cool and aloof person. However, when she gets into trouble, we already know that we want to root for her.
When it comes to execution, The Takeover is on a solid European level – at times Holly Mae Brood resembles Franka Potente from Tom Tykwer’s Lola Rennt (1999), being in constant motion and momentum, changing locations at lightning speed. Pursued like a game animal, Mel also has to constantly move and hide, and will have as allies mainly the somewhat infantile Thomas (Geza Weisz), with whom she has been on one date, (unsuccessful one), and the aging hacker Buddy (acclaimed Dutch actor Frank Lammers), to whom Mel owes her presence in this “business.” And just as Sandra Bullock confronted “the net,” the protagonist of The Takeover must confront people who represent one of the biggest threats associated with today’s technology – access to data, identity theft and the progressive disappearance of privacy online. And it must be said that what Mel experiences can be genuinely frightening.
Thanks to Netflix’s investments in local film productions and series, we are gaining access to cinematographies either completely exotic (such as South Africa and Wild is the Wind) or somewhat marginalized, such as those of the Netherlands. The Takeover shows that it is possible to create interesting genre cinema in Europe, which may not yet be able to hold the suspense like Hollywood superproductions, but has a lot of potential. Assuming Netflix continues to develop regional content, more films from the Netherlands or South Africa could put their American counterparts to shame.