Computer Movies: Hackers (1995)

Oh man, you guys, I LOVE Hackers. I was really excited about the idea of computers and the internet without really getting in the the technical side of them. So, when Hackers came out in 1995, I was in. In the theaters watching that with my friends. Man, the Angelina Jolie nip reveal is much more prominent on the big screen. That’s really all I remember from the actual theater experience. Hey, I was 12, gimme a break. I would go on to purchase Hackers on VHS. I can’t tell you how many times I watched it, because I honestly don’t remember, but when the missus and I watched it after we got power back (it had been sitting around from Netflix) I was tossing out lines and scenarios like I had just watched it yesterday. And hell, I still loved it for different and similar reasons.

When I was a kid, I was blown away by what computers and the internet could do, now that I’m older, that fascination has been replaced by a quaint interest in how cool a 28.8 modem was at one time. Or how you had to go to elaborate pay phones in China Town to hack. As far as the story goes, it’s still pretty solid. Fledgling hacker Joey stumbles upon a virus that Fisher Steven’s The Plague has created. This sends him and his friends down a rabbit hole that sets the little guys up against the big guys in a battle of technology with a dundering computer crimes official (related for some reason to the Secret Service, is this really how it was?) trying to chase them both down.

Of course, it’s not a perfect movie and if I was watching it in 2010 for the first time without nostalgia backing the movie up, I’d probably think it was a fun artifact that’s generally pretty silly. All the silliness can be broken down to two individuals and their ridiculous performances: Johnny Lee Miller as Dade Murphy/Zero Cool/Crash Overdrive and Stevens as The Plague. Miller tosses out every line like he’s a Christian Slater-impersonating robot, just shouting and awkward. As a kid I thought he was rad, but I’m older than him now and it just seems crazy. Stevens’ character is just ridiculous. He’s a soda drinking, skateboard riding, trenchcoat wearing, virtual reality game playing little goober who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else in the room. I can’t tell if this is a script problem (like, was the scene where he appears on a street riding his skateboard and holding onto a car through sewer steam in the script or a director choice? man that scene was lame, though, again, I though it was cool when I was a kid) or what, but man, he’s pretty bad all around. But, that just makes it SO much easier to hate him.

One other thing that irked me was how ridiculous the law enforcement professionals were portrayed. Now, I get that they’re supposed to the the bad guys in an anti-establishment story like this, but, aside from one dude who thinks the hacker manifesto is cool, they’re just out of control, breaking into peoples’ houses without a care in the world, not caring when Plague is in Dade’s room and smashes his boom box with a bat and using AK-47s to apprehend teenagers. Ah well, I’ll chalk this one up to fun nostalgia with plenty of rollerblades and outdated tech.

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