The American and British action realms collide in Take Down (aka Billionaire Ransom) from genre regular Jim Gillespie (D-Tox, I Know What You Did Last Summer). Whilst this comes with plenty of cinematic B-Movie camp, Gillespie has crafted a breezy and perfectly enjoyable little action film.
Penned by Alexander Ignon (Mel Gibson’s Ransom), Take Down centres on a remote Scottish island where spoiled teenage tearaways are sent learn survival skills and take responsibility for themselves. When a gang of kidnappers (Ed Westwick, Ashley Walters) attempt to hold these privileged teens to ransom, the real survival mission begins.
Although it is his highest scale film project in eleven years, Gillespie still clearly knows what it takes to make an effective genre film with Take Down boasting a slick aesthetic, tense set pieces and a certain B-Movie sense of fun. From the initial training scenes on the island to the film’s tense final showdown, Take Down ramps up the excitement and showcases a surprising amount of bloodshed in doing so – it’s not often you see a protruding broken arm bone forced down someone’s jugular, but Take Down delivers on that front.
Whilst this action is efficiently crafted and tightly edited, Take Down‘s narrative stays within familiar territory and has echoes of straight to video genre fare. The concept of the wronged man (in this case Jeremy Sumpter‘s Kyle Hartmann) stepping up to the mission of saving his peers does not feel too fresh, but fortunately its delivered with enough technical finesse to prove generally engaging for the 108 minute runtime. That’s not to say that you’ll have the slightest bit of attachment or empathy for Ignon’s crew of motley teenage billionaire brats, despite the writer’s best attempts to humanise them though a forced team-building montage. Most of the cathartic fun comes in the film’s final act which sees the kidnappers and teens go head-to-head in a showdown in the impressively shot rural locations on the Isle of Man.
Fans of Gossip Girl are bound to find enjoyment in watching Ed Westwick take on the Brit hardman role with a gritty bravado, whilst Brit-flick favourite Ashley Walters provides menacing support. Jeremy Sumpter provides some all American clean-cut good looks and proves a generally effective lead-star, whilst German star Sebastian Koch represents the over-forties as Kyle’s father with a suave ease.
Take Down is an effective piece of action cinema delivering efficient spectacle and a successful sense of tension. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but it’s a breezy and occasionally fun watch.
[rating=3] | Andrew McArthur
Thriller | USA/UK 2015 | 15| 2016 Edinburgh Film Festival | 21st June 2016 | Dir.Jim Gillespie |Jeremy Sumpter, Ed Westwick, Phoebe Tonkin, Ashley Walters, Sebastian Koch