Awfully Good: Hackers + Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (Video)

Michael Mann's techno-thriller BLACKHAT is getting dumped in January, which means it probably doesn't hold a candle to…

Hackers (1995)

Director: Iain Softley
Stars: Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Matthew Lillard

Crash Override, Acid Burn, Phantom Phreak, Cereal Killer, and Lord Nikon must stop The Plague from unleashing the Da Vinci virus and framing them for the crime.

That should all make sense if you watch the movie.

To be honest, I like HACKERS and don't know if I'd consider it a bad movie per se. It's fast and fun, but an extreme remnant of it's bygone era. Nowadays it's more enjoyable to see just how outdated and goofy the infant Internet culture of the 1990s was portrayed and the corny nostalgia that comes with it. And with all the recent hackings and cybercrimes dominating the news, it seemed like a good time to revisit the adventures of Crash Override and Friends. You're in the butter zone now, baby.

Women and their mixed signals…

HACKERS is foremost a 90s teen movie mixed with a cyberpunk aesthetic. There's the expected high school clichés, character archetypes, and young romance and rebellion. But there's also a shiny layer of day-glo youth culture that perfectly encapsulates and exaggerates the time period. The hip dialogue. ("We have just gotten a wake-up call from the Nintendo Generation!") The seizure-inducing fashion. The fact that everyone, no matter their age, uses rollerblades or skateboards for transportation. It's all so cringe-worthy and so watchable.

This came out the same year as Stallone's JUDGE DREDD. Notice it says "Garbage File" at the top.

While enormously archaic, the technology at least fares a little better in hindsight. In addition to references to Neuromancer author and cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson that show the screenwriter actually did a little research, the script at least competently portrays the basic components of how hacking worked in decades past. It at least gets hacker subculture and know-how better than other movies like THE NET or SWORDFISH or THE CORE or LAWNMOWER MAN 2. The hilarious part is how director Iain Softley visualizes the act. To him, computers are built out of digital cityscapes you fly around and data is represented by shapes and helixes that float through your brain. I understand it's there to save the audience from watching people type in boring command prompt, but it adds a cheesy quality that sorely sticks out from the movie's "cool" tone. In particular, there's a hacking duel at the end that's just an embarrassing sensory assault: "Let's echo 23!" "Head him off at the pass!" "Send a flu shot!" "Type cookie, you idiot!"

This is what it looks like inside your Ethernet cable.

Though it's definitely possible these exceedingly goofy elements are done on purpose. Why else would you film five minutes of the main characters spinning around in phone booths? Or do a military-style "gearing up" scene where the hackers spray paint their keyboards camouflage and quick draw floppy disks from gun holsters. There's also all the odd sexual stuff, including a group voyeur scene and two sex dreams, one of which may or may not involve Jonny Lee Miller wearing a tight latex bondage dress. Even the plot of the movie—in which the villain's end game essentially turns out to be exactly the same as SUPERMAN III (and later OFFICE SPACE)—suggests a level of self-awareness that makes everything else more palatable.

The CON AIR prequel nobody wanted focused entirely on how Sally-Can't Dance ended up in prison.

It also helps that two decades later it's obvious HACKERS has one hell of a cast. Most notable is a young Angelina Jolie, who spends the entire film looking like a disturbingly kinky/sexy version of Mr. Spock. Jonny Lee Miller is completely vanilla as the protagonist, but he does have some palpable chemistry with Jolie, which isn't surprising considered they got married right after filming ended. In addition to the two cybercriminal lovebirds, you also have pigtailed hacker Matthew Lillard, who gets most of the film's great off-the-wall lines as the cerebrally damaged Cereal Killer, and a young Jesse Bradford as the requisite kid who gets in over his head. Fisher Stephens plays the overly cocky villain The Plague, who consistently rides a skateboard in the most dramatic way possible. And look out for small parts from magician Penn Jillette, former Mr. JLo Marc Anthony, and The Wire's Wendell Pierece as a secret service agent who gets my favorite line—"You are floating… and I'm about to flush yo' ass!"

Matthew Lillard's patented Nipple Method for acting was a little out there, but produced great emotional results.

Matthew Lillard's greatest hits and other random winners.

Some of the film's sexiest moments, most ridiculous computer hacking scenes, and Fisher Stevens dramatically riding a skateboard.

Angelina Jolie has a brief nipple slip and Jesse Bradford bares his rear.

Are you elite? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Someone rollerblades or skateboards
  • Someone uses "elite" as an adjective
  • You go inside a computer
  • Someone speaks in techno babble
  • Someone says "Hack The Planet"
  • Angelina Jolie has a random English accent

Double shot when:

  • Someone wakes up from a sex dream

Thanks to Jeanette for suggesting this week's movie!

But, wait! There's more! Check out our latest Awfully Good Movies Video Column below! This week we take a look at the internet sensation known as ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD: THE MOVIE. Enjoy!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Angelina Jolie's part was originally offered to Katherine Heigl, who instead made UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY.
Source: JoBlo.com



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