Where to start, where to start. Hackers isn't really an enigma; it was done for glitz, glamour, Angelina Jolie in PVC, and sensationalism. Flashy lights, pulsating music, the whole nine yards. Usually, a movie review gives a synopsis early and concluding statements at the end. This review says it all up front: Hackers was a T&A movie that "sexified" hacking and made teenage boys think that they could have a crack (pun intended) at Angelina Jolie if they got skillz. So now, on with the rest of the review..
"Zero Cool" is a child hacker who created a virus, caused economic chaos, and was forbidden to touch a computer until he turned 18. Then... he turned 18. POW! Most of the plot is set in the first sixty seconds of the movie. Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller) returns to his roots (well, he really has none since he was about 9 or 10 when he was busted), and enters the "underground world of hacking". Anti-social behaviour, neon lights, techno music... the entire stereotype is played out for the next 90 minutes. Keep in mind that in 1995, most networks revolved around text-based systems - email, USENET, and BBS systems aren't to be found here. GUI goodness and virtual reality all over your screen... the early scene "tape fight" between "Zero Cool" (aka Crash Override) and "Acid Burn" is fun for ten seconds or so, but really kills any semblance of reality for the rest of the movie. Then again, the movie probably wasn't intended to be based on anything real, so we can't necessarily ding points for that.
Point to note: The school computer labs use Apples. Some things haven't changed.
The plot: Dade and his newly-found friends stumble upon an insider plan defraud a shipping corporation through its computer systems. The company "security officer" ("The Plague") is behind the fraud and attempts to frame Dade and his friends for the intrusion. Long story short, they have to prove their innocence and do so by using laptops, phone lines, good old-fashioned navigation around a 3D city-landscape style computer system that is far more "The Matrix" than even the Wachowski's could have imagined at the time.
Tech points to ponder (this was 1995!):
Oggling over a laptop with a 28.8bps modem and an active matrix display
Most common passwords: love, sex, secret, and god. 0.01 points for old-school
Screwing with the Feds via computer records. NOT RECOMMENDED.
If Hackers was totally devoid of hope, it would earn the "mafiaboy" rating. For the little bit of glitz and flash (as well as a guest spot by Penn Jillette and a brief glimpse at Angelina Jolie's b00biez through see through clothing) to keep it interesting enough for a 90-minute view, it gets an extra point. No extra points for an exerpt from The Mentor's "Hacker's Manifesto", but a nice touch to an otherwise lame script.
DVD Liner Notes:
The original website for the movie was supposedly defaced by a group called the "Internet Liberation Front". The movie's producers supposedly chose to leave the defacement in place for publicity.
According to the producer, Iain Softley, no computer animation was used in the making of the film.
Lyger's Rating: 2
1 = mafiaboy (raw ass)
2 = Pauly Shore (hey, I liked Encino Man..)
3 = Japanese wrestling (fun to watch for a couple hours)
4 = Mitnick's nipples (whoo-hoo)
5 = OMFG RAWR (you buy it, watch it repeatedly, and sleep with it under your pillow)
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