Movies: Hackers

Friends were amazed I had missed this movie when it came out in 1995. But really, besides the fact that I was in film school and getting spoon fed so many films that I hardly went out to see anything current at the time, Hackers wasn't the kind of movie I would have liked anyway. I remember liking Stargate in '94, and of course Interview with the Vampire (also '94), but in 1995 I didn't go see any of the big movies. I didn't see things like Se7en and Die Hard with a Vengeance until much, much later, and I've still never seen Apollo 13. The only reason I even saw GoldenEye was my dad took me over Thanksgiving break. But teens and computers? It was something I was already living with and therefore didn't need to see a movie about.

Still, when Hackers recently aired on one of the movie channels during the holiday break, I decided to give it a try. It's a ridiculous movie, but I'm having trouble discerning if that's because it's so out of date, or if it was just as dumb in 1995 as it is in 2013. In truth, I found the wardrobe the most distracting thing. I'm not into trends, prefer "classic" styles, but I'm still pretty sure no one dressed like that. No one I knew, anyway, but maybe I just knew all the wrong people—or the right ones, depending on how you look at it. Or maybe they only dressed like that in New York, which is quite possible; New York tends to do its own thing regardless of the rest of the world. If that's the case, then in 1995 New York was really ugly.

The plot of the movie itself was a tad convoluted, but I also wasn't paying 100% attention because I had my laptop in front of me. Apparently the main character Dade (the screenwriter was from Miami) did some terrible hackerish thing with a computer when he was really young and—like Sleeping Beauty and the spindle—was sworn to keep away from computers until he reached the age of 18. Because of course he wouldn't be able to do anything bad then. Or he'd be so grateful to be allowed to play computer games that he would never, ever risk his electronic freedom by doing anything bad ever again. The end.

No, of course not. Skipping ahead (and therefore neatly sidestepping the question of how a kid manages to avoid all contact with computers in the age of ever-growing technology, and also whether he actually did do as he was told), we find Dade (played by Jonny Lee Miller trying to look a bit like Sting from what I could tell) reaching his majority and moving to New York with his mother all at the same time. He navigates the difficulties of starting at a new school and falls in with a group of—title check!—hackers. Apparently despite not being allowed access to any computers, Dade has made it a point to read up on them and keep abreast of all developments so that he's able to jump right in and start hacking without even being rusty.

The story devolves from there into something about an evil Fisher Stevens (hacker name: Plague) doing underhanded hack work for some corporation in an attempt to extort millions of dollars as a quick payday. He tries to frame Dade & Co. for the bad stuff he's doing, but of course those wily teens call together an army of hackers from all corners of the earth to thwart Plague and send him down. In a "clever" twist on old-versus-young, Plague rides a skateboard while Dade and the other teenagers Rollerblade their way through the film. (No, it's not really clever. That's why I used quote marks.) Funniest moment: Plague skateboarding alongside a limousine to snatch a floppy disk from Dade's hand.

Yeah, remember floppy disks? I still have a bunch and no way to pull the data off them at the moment . . . Maybe I should call Dade for that?

I guess Hackers is considered some kind of classic in certain circles, but I didn't find it all that interesting, even from a film history or nostalgic point of view. Maybe as a marker in cultural history? With technology changing and advancing so rapidly, movies like Hackers fall into a very specific moment in time. As such, they remain kinds of monoliths to mark our progress. But really, this is an artifact I don't feel the need to ever revisit.

1 comment:

sp said...

It was just as dumb in 1995.