Takedown -- Film Review

Vigilante thriller with limited commercial potential, but a few well-executed, genuine surprises.

BERLIN -- Certainly no “Taken” or “The Brave One,” “Takedown” — formerly known as “Transparency” — does not necessarily advance the vigilante genre but manages to undermine it at times with surprising effectiveness.

DVD and other small-screen sales should be in keeping with the assembled name value for the film, which, had it not been shot in English to begin with, certainly would be a contender for a bigger-budgeted U.S. remake. The film played at Germany’s Oldenburg International Film Festival.

Writer-director Raul Ingles doesn’t even pretend to aim for more than a solid B-movie veneer, and sure enough, “Takedown” isn’t particularly original during its first half. Then the film sneaks off the beaten path, offering a genuine surprise midway through and a melancholy ending more apt for a European art house film.

Former cop David (Lou Diamond Phillips) never got over the fact that five years ago, he could not save his daughter from a brutal attack by a sexual predator; it cost him his marriage and his job. Apparently, he’s back on his feet, working as a rent-a-cop and enduring life one mindless one-night stand at a time.

During a routine inspection, he stumbles across a truck filled with the dead bodies of several young women. Before he can do anything, he gets into a shootout that lands him in the hospital.

When a company attorney (Deborah Kara Unger) tries to get him to sign a statement denying the incident, David unleashes his tormented soul and former skills, tracking down the white-slavery ring responsible for the women’s death and the corporate behemoth financing it.

Leading actors Phillips and Unger are fine, with Estella Warren making a dowdy cameo quite unlike her former swimsuit model-turned-starlet career. But the film clearly lacks a charismatic villain as several minor actors play minor heavies to a predictably mellow effect.

Considering that the film supposedly was shot in 13 days, Michael C. Blundell’s camerawork is adequate, which cannot be said for Christopher Nickel’s score, which attacks the audiences eardrums a little too much vigor.

Venue: Oldenburg (Germany) International Film Festival
Production: Matt Kelly Prods., QubeFilm
Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Estella Warren, Deborah Kara Unger, Aaron Pearl, Jordana Largy
Director-screenwriter: Raul Inglis
Producer: Matt Kelly
Executive producers: Navid Soofi, Nima Soofi
Director of photography: Michael C. Blundell
Production designer: Monika Choynowski
Music: Christopher Nickel
Costume designer: Stephanie Nolin
Editor: Richard Martin
No rating, 96 minutes