“The Takeover” is an action thriller film that bases itself mostly around random fast keyboard-clacking to signify efficient hacking skills and throws in some fight sequences to complement it. The story follows an ethical hacker by the name of Mel, who stumbles across ill-intentioned software codes and is then chased around by the evil hackers across Rotterdam. Everything in “The Takeover” is superficial, and there is hardly anything to take away from the film, but it holds fairly mediocre value if watched solely for mindless entertainment.
‘The Takeover” Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
A Dutch military base faces a serious security issue every week as its servers and computers are hacked by some group of miscreants on Wednesdays, at a very particular time of 3 in the afternoon. In order to put an end to such a threat, the officials appoint the best ethical hacker in the place (possibly even the whole country), known as Buddy. The professional works his way through the data and codes at the time of the breach to find out the exact location of the miscreants. While the military feared the hacks to be from Russian or North Korean enemies, the job turned out to be done by a single teenage girl called Mel Bandison. When the authorities go to potentially arrest Mel, Buddy accompanies them as well, much to the girl’s jubilation since the hacker was someone she always admired and looked up to. Mel reveals that she had been hacking the military base solely because she felt military activities were harmful to nature and was let off after serious warnings.
Ten years later, at about twenty-six years old, Mel Bandison works as an ethical hacker for a security company that reviews and passes certifications of safety for any new software being made available to the public. As part of her job, she visits a company in Rotterdam called Rotramax, which has come up with a new self-driving and self-guided bus to be introduced shortly on public roads. Mel checks through the codes of data that essentially drive the bus but finds an anomaly in the form of a data breach code that is not supposed to be present. She consults with her supervisor and ultimately sends a Trojan Horse virus the other way to stop this breach, and in the process, hacks into the computers of the criminals, making them display a middle finger on the screens, which has been her personal style always. However, shortly after this, two men break into Mel’s house with guns and a photograph of her with them, and she somehow manages to escape. Mel goes to the police for help but finds out that an even more sinister plan is in the works against her. With the police also wanting to arrest her, Mel now has to find a way to escape this trap set by the cyber criminals.
How Does Buddy Help Mel Out? Who Had Hacked Into The Rotramax System?
The reason how Mel is suddenly made public enemy number one happens to be that the criminal hackers had used face scans of the woman to create a deep-fake video of her shooting a man dead in Rotterdam, whereas they had got the murder committed by someone else. This video, in which someone resembling Mel is shooting the gun, is leaked all over the news and media, and this also makes the head of police, Dries Daoudi, start a search for the woman. While Mel had initially gone to the police, she had noticed the two goons who had broken into her house at the place too, which meant that they were either working closely with the police or were part of the police force and worked with the hackers too. In order to escape both these forces chasing her around the city, Mel takes help from a recent date of hers, Thomas Deen. Although Thomas is more of a simpleton when it comes to hacking and other technological shenanigans, the young man helps Mel out throughout and accompanies her on her path to escape. It is very clear to Mel that in order to save herself from this ordeal, she needs to get rid of the fake video, or else she will surely be arrested by the police. But reaching this video and finding out more about it is really beyond her technical skills, and for this reason, she now decides to reach out to her old master, Buddy, after many years of no contact.
Although Buddy and Mel had been very close for years after her acts of hacking into the Dutch military base, the two had fallen apart in recent times due to a particular incident. After the two had become friends, they used to conduct regular hacking of corrupt and immoral companies that would make profits by harming others and stealing their money. While they had decided to use this stolen money as donations for the people or entities being harmed, Mel found out that Buddy had not donated this money but had kept it for himself. Extremely angry with the man for doing so, Mel informed Interpol about this and led the authorities toward Buddy. The master hacker quickly had to go into hiding, for what they were doing was essentially illegal, and he had not been in contact with Mel ever since. It is to be mentioned here that Mel’s own moralist endeavor of doing right had continued, as even at present, she had come together with two other ethical hackers to hack into corrupt businesses and donate all their funds to charity. But with this scenario of immediate danger now working as a huge disruption, Mel contacts Buddy, and the man does respond by coming to meet her. He takes her and Thomas to his safehouse near the Dutch-Belgian border and starts looking into the really well-made deep-fake video and its mysterious source.
Gradually, as Buddy digs out more information, a bigger picture of conspiracy starts to emerge, and it takes Mel by surprise. The self-driving bus company, Rotramax, had been doing business with a software company called Xiau Ming, which was a Chinese multinational company with no ill repute. However, although Xiau Ming had investments in other European companies as well, what was unknown was that the company was actually using a data mining tool in the software codes of these invested companies. In the case of the Rotramax bus, the cameras fitted on the bus were supposed to collect facial data of all passengers and match them with police and other safety records to make sure that the self-automated vehicle and its passengers would not get into any situation of danger. But Xiau Ming and its cybercriminals had been collecting this facial data and matching it with other databases such as health and legal records, along with breaching people’s public phones and home security cameras too, to then sell the entire data package to the Chinese government. As Mel had put a sudden and untimely stop to this whole operation with her encrypted Trojan Horse virus, the hackers had decided to directly attack the woman and take her down. Mel immediately informs of this insanely dangerous privacy breach to police officer Daoudi, but the officer refuses to call off the police search for Mel. But in the meantime, the criminal hackers locate her and Buddy and decide to pay them a visit.
Mel grows certain that the only way the hackers could have gotten such a good image of her face was through the cameras of the Rotramax bus, which had scanned her face when she had gone for the inspection. She decides to return to Rotterdam to get hold of this video of her face from the Rotramax databank, and just as she is about to leave the safe house, the hackers barge into the place. Led by a British man named Rogers, these attackers directly work for Xiau Ming to bring Mel down, but the woman hides herself and Thomas in time, and Rogers kills Buddy. Mel then rushes to the Rotramax compound and breaks into its server room, where it is once again Rogers who stops her from getting hold of her video. Making use of quick hacking skills that turn off all the lights in the room, Mel escapes death while the police also arrive on the scene. Rogers is aware that the Rotramax servers have proof of data breaches that would easily incriminate his clients at Xiau Ming, so he puts fire to the servers. However, Daoudi and his police force are quick to arrive on the scene, and they capture both Rogers and Mel. The woman now pleads her case once again and asks for one chance to prove herself. Daoudi is convinced, and they enter the server room to put out the fire and then Mel goes through the data codes. This fateful day had also coincidentally been the same day for the first public trial of the Rotramax self-driven bus, with the councilor of the city also a guest in this trial. However, with the servers put to fire, the bus had lost all control and was now rushing forward on its predestined route, ramming away any other vehicle or obstacle that was coming its way. Mel sees this opportunity to further help her cause, as she now promises to hack into the bus’s software codes and bring it under her control.
‘The Takeover’ Ending Explained: Does Mel Bring The Rotramax Bus To A Stop Before Grave Danger?
While Mel appoints her two hacker friends on the case and also receives help from Thomas, the hackers at Xiau Ming hack open the Erasmus bridge, which falls in the predetermined course of the bus. With the bridge open, the bus and its passengers would dive into the water and die, perhaps making Rotramax look at fault and also destroying the camera evidence on the bus. It is not that Rotramax was unaware of Xiau Ming’s privacy breaching code that was part of their software, as the company had received money from the Chinese investors for particularly letting a code of data run inside its system. However, when Rotramax then realized the gravity of the situation and threatened Xiau Ming to control its actions, it was the Chinese investors who turned threatening against the company, and Rogers had issued direct personal threats against the CEO of Rotramax. Back in the present times, together with the help of Thomas and her two hacker friends/associates, Mel brings the bus under control and stops it right before it is about to make a plunge into the river. She shows Daoudi the real video of a different man committing the murder and explains to him how her face had been planted on the man’s body in the video. She then also brings the malicious privacy-breaching software to everyone’s attention and manages to save herself as well as all the passengers on the bus.
‘The Takeover” relies a lot on an extremely superficial portrayal of hacking and convenient action scenes. Whether the fact that her face matched with the video of a perpetrator committing a crime as grave as murder, even though other evidence did not match at all, could get Mel most definitely charged with murder needs further questioning. Even though the major drama of the film is over by now, there is one last remaining necessity—to clear any negative image of Buddy. Shortly after the previous events, Mel receives a prerecorded video message from Buddy in which the man tells her what he had actually done with all the money they had stolen. The man had seen great potential in Mel’s work and was also a supporter of her noble cause of looting the corrupt rich to give to the poor. But in order for Mel to successfully make that happen, she needed the proper framework and resources to hack into multinational companies and corrupt governments. Buddy had used the money to create this framework and resources for Mel, and the woman now happily continues on her path of ethical hacking with her new lover, Thomas, by her side.
“The Takeover” is a 2022 Drama Action film directed by Annemarie van de Mond.