Hackers isn’t exactly a good movie but still entertaining and of the movies from the ‘90s dealing with technology, like The Net, Johnny Mnemonic, Virtuosity, it certainly holds up better (by comparison), in fact pair it up with one of those to make for a fun double feature.
Genre(s): Thriller, Crime
Shout Factory | PG13 – 105 min. – $29.95 | August 18, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Hackers is something of a cult classic and although the graphics are cheesy and the acting more on the campy side, this 1995 film still holds up if only on a sheer entertainment level. I actually had not seen the movie in many years and watching some time later, I enjoyed the heck out of it, warts and all.
The plot is simple enough as it follows 18-year-old high school senior Dade Murphy (JONNY LEE MILLER) who has just gotten off a 7-year probation after, at the age of 11, crashed 1,507 computer systems in a single day. The Feds caught him and fined the family $45,000. Now he’s living with his mother having moved to New York City and must integrate into a new school. There, he sets his eyes on the brash and confident Kate (ANGELINA JOLIE) and makes quick friends of fellow hackers Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez (RENOLY SANTIAGO), Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein (MATTHEW LILLARD), Joey Pardella (JESSE BRADFORD) and Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook (LAURENCE MASON).
When Joey, an aspiring hacker, stumbles upon a secret file hidden in a “Garbage” folder within a supposedly secure system at Ellingson Mineral Company, he manages to copy part of the file before his mother literally pulls the plug to make him go to bed. However, the damage is done when the system security administrator Eugene Belford aka The Plague (FISHER STEVENS) manages to track down the source and sends the Secret Service led by Agent Richard Gill (WENDELL PIERCE).
Belford has audacious plans, one involving targeting five automated oil tankers and at the same time embezzling $25 million from the company using a nasty virus/worm and he’s using Joey as the scapegoat unless the others can foil the plan and expose the fraud.
In many ways Hackers epitomizes the 1990s between the fashion, hairstyles (though Jolie is in a world of her own) and worst of all, crappy techno/electronica music which is used ad nauseam yet completely works in the hacking world, though I have to wonder if it’s true or mere Hollywood cliché. Those issues aside, this is an entertaining and breezy flick with a great cast who turn in good performances and even Fisher Stevens is great as the primary antagonist.
The film was helmed by Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key) from a screenplay by Rafael Moreu (The Rage: Carrie 2) and now 20 years later, Hackers still holds a special place for many and in spite of the distance and advances in technology, to the point I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t remade it, that it still holds up relatively well, though younger viewers are going to wonder what the hell is a pay telephone…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with reverse artwork, the front of which is the original poster art which, as fine as the standard release is, looks better IMO.
As for the features, it’s a bit limited but we do get The Keyboard Cowboys: A Look Back at Hackers (1:03:55; HD) which is split into 3-parts and includes new interviews with Director Iain Softley, Actors Fisher Stevens, Matthew Lillard and Penn Jillette, Roger Burton (Costume Designer), Peter Chiang (VFX Artist), two hacking consultants and Film Critic Mark Kermodei. Also included is the Theatrical Trailer (2:36; HD).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Shout Factory releases Hackers onto Blu-ray presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. For the most part, the transfer looks fine with well bright if not a tad oversaturated colors and decent enough detail levels. There were several instances of minor specs and dust marks but otherwise it appears to be clean.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track provides for clear dialogue levels and decent depth with the more thriller-centric scenes. Where this lossless track comes to life is with the 90s soundtrack/score so anyone who grew up during the era will have a nice flashback when Stereo MCS’s ‘Connected’ starts playing in the background…
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Hackers isn’t exactly a good movie but still entertaining and of the movies from the ‘90s dealing with technology, like The Net, Johnny Mnemonic, Virtuosity, it certainly holds up better (by comparison), in fact pair it up with one of those to make for a fun double feature. This “20th Anniversary” release by Shout may seem short on features but the retrospective featurette is well worth checking out to go along with good video/audio transfers.