John Danza

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Track Down Review


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For this film review, we begin with a history lesson. Kevin Mitnick stands as probably the most famous, the most notorious, and the most successful computer hacker of all time. After nearly 15 years of hacking (alternating with jail and probation time), he was finally apprehended for the last time in 1995, for a collection of tech crimes. and was released from prison in early 2000. (The story of his questionably legal incarceration is itself enough material for a book and a movie.) I interviewed Mitnick shortly after his release; today he's a computer security consultant (though he's not allowed to touch a computer as a term of his release).

Track Downwas produced shortly before Mitnick's release amid much controversy. Mitnick, as you might expect, is a cause celebre among the hacker community, while he's been vilified by the corporate and legal communities. The story of his long career as a hacker was the subject of two major books -- The Fugitive Game, written mainly from Mitnick's point of view, and Takedown, written by the man who captured him. The latter book (widely dismissed by the hacker community as propaganda) got optioned by Miramax, and against all odds, the Kevin Mitnick story became a movie, starring Skeet Ulrich as Mitnick and Russell Wong as Tsutomu Shimomura, the man who "captured" Mitnick and the co-author of Takedown.

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