EIFF 2016: Take Down Review

Jeremy Sumpter finds himself trying to evade a gang of mercenaries on an isolated island in Scottish director Jim Gillespie's new action film.

Formerly known as Billionaire Ransom, Jim Gillespie’s Take Down sees a batch of spoiled, trust fund kids sent to a remote Scottish island to teach them some discipline. What their wealthy parents don’t count on is a group of slick mercenaries attacking the island and holding the kids ransom.

The lead is Kyle (Jeremy Sumpter), a selfish and reckless party boy sent to the island by his father (Sebastian Koch) after he drunkenly crashes his sports car and leaves the passenger – Amy (Phoebe Tonkin) – for dead. Sumpter has the spoiled waspy kid thing down pat; he is best known for his role as quarterback JD McCoy in Friday Night Lights after all.

When the mercenaries attack – lead by Ed Westwick’s Billy – Kyle has to overcome his selfishness and not only survive but help the others make it off the island in one piece too. While much of the film is played as a team effort, none of the other characters are particularly well fleshed out and feel mostly expendable, just there to be picked off and inspire Kyle to find his inner hero.

Much of the action is solidly shot and there are some inventive moments of blood and guts once the film descends into a battle between the kids and the mercenaries. It does stretch credulity however anytime the kids start to get the better of these military trained, heavily armed mercenaries. There are times when it works, with the kids being smart and inventive enough to get the upper hand but when things descend into hand-to-hand combat, it becomes a little hard to believe.

A subplot with the kids’ parents debating how to deal with this scenario feels half-baked, like there are large chunks of it missing or just underdeveloped. Nonetheless, the action on the island is enjoyable and Kyle’s arc is just enough to hang the narrative on. Hardly an action classic by any means but a relatively fun, schlocky thriller.