As grotesque as it is, the film is an announcement that computer power is passing from nerds to cool guys, that juvenile hackers are taking over white-collar crime as surely as street gangs stole neighborhoods.

HACKERS

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


"Hackers" is a landmark movie that has not an ounce of artistic merit. You will see the worst performance by an actress in recent memory (Lorraine Bracco as Margo), and you will suffer a group of unpleasant teenage cretins, who turn, undeservedly, into unsavory heroes. With an uninteresting script and no plot to speak of, the movie is one long MTV video set in a computer- generated landscape.

Since you will probably not see this film unless you are sentenced to it, you may wonder why anyone would bother to review it. It's simple: As grotesque as it is, the film is an announcement that computer power is passing from nerds to cool guys, that juvenile hackers are taking over white-collar crime as surely as street gangs stole neighborhoods. 'Bad Kid' movies have a way of becoming reality.

Using professional I.D.s like "Zero Cool" and "Razor," this particular group of young criminals, obsessed with planting viruses and stealing information, becomes distracted from everyday crime by an in-house corporate theft that involves Swiss bank accounts and the possibility of the destruction of oil tankers, but don't be mislead into thinking these are the elements of a plot.

Dade (Jonny Lee Lee Miller) and Kate (Angelina Jolie, in the single worthy performance), initially seen as petty on-line thieves, are finally anointed as saviors of the corporation and the tankers. But the mantle of hero is a very bad fit on these spoiled, self-indulgent, slovenly, lazy, unsocialized creeps.

Dressed in various shades of contempo-chic, these unattractive, wild-eyed high school kids argue over french fries and ride their roller blades through computerized circuit boards that morph into cities as fast as a mouse can click.

Pulling floppy disks from their pockets as crisply as street kids pull guns, the hackers know that their ability to manipulate information will allow them to tamper with the infrastructure and security of the country. The ability to create havoc is a far headier experience for them than the sex, drugs, or alcohol that fueled kid cultures of the past. As a path to power, the laptop makes guns seem almost quaint.

As bad as it is, the movie is a real echo of the headlines that have trumpeted the first convictions of hackers who have already broken into bank accounts and vital statistics. It is not a stretch to imagine what they could do to airborne planes and military orders.

As a landmark, this very bad movie is probably the first drop from a ruptured pipe that will become a torrent of movies about the ingenious ways criminals devise to upset society in an explosion of computer crime.

Let's hope some towering figures emerge to lead the film parade that will chronicle this new turf. May they have in their human brains the imagination and talent to create suspense and strong characters who move through good plots. May they also be wise enough to hire good actors.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : MGM/United Artists
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 1h44m


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