Hackers Recap

Jamie

Dade Murphy is an elite hacker just looking to have some fun. After moving to NYC he gets involved with a hacking group that finds itself the target of an evil corporate hacker who is worried they will expose his criminal scheme. Can they stop the evil hacker (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Hackers.

How?! Dade Murphy aka Zero Cool aka Crash Override is just a regular ol’ high school student… other than being a totally elite hacker! C00ool! As a kid he crashed a bunch of Wall Street computers and has spent his youth on probation. So when he moves to New York City he goes through all the trials and tribulations of the “new kid” while also being drawn into the hacker scene that he’s been barred from enjoying. When one of the hacker gang, Joey, gets caught hacking a Gibson supercomputer run by an eeeeevil oil company they have to figure out why they are claiming the Joey is part of a hacker group looking to use a virus to crash oil tankers. Due to his record Dade is intimidated into giving over a copy of the disk Joey partially copied off a garbage file on the Gibson. Realizing his mistake, he joins up with his crew to figure out what the hell is going on. Using his beautiful mind hacking skillz, Dade figures out that the garbage file contains a worm that the oil company’s computer security expert/elite hacker, The Plague, has been using to steal millions of dollars. Worried that Joey may have copied everything in the file, The Plague is using the virus as a cover so he can blame the hackers for the theft. Realizing that they are going to take the fall, Dade concocts a scheme to hack the Gibson and download the whole garbage file to get definitive proof. They band together a worldwide network of hackers to distract The Plague with viruses. In an epic hack battle (as the kids say) they are able to copy the garbage file and take down the Gibson before getting arrested. But with the new proof they are able to implicate The Plague and Dade totes smooches his lady love Kate. Rad. THE END.

Why?! The Plague wants money. He sees himself as a hired hand. A cowboy out there taming the wild west of the computer world and so has little qualms stealing from the people he considers beneath him. As for the hackers they just want to free information for the good of the people. They see the government and corporations using the power of computing to ruthlessly make money and spy on people. They just expose this information to the people for examination. When this gets them mixed up with The Plague this turns the motivation towards a MacGuffin. The garbage file in the mythical Gibson supercomputer. Unhackable… or is it? It’s like a bank heist where the safe is the Gibson and the treasure is the garbage file. Solid.

Who?! For films like this I knew there would be interesting credits like what you find for Dave Buchwald, who served as a “computer hacking consultant”. This is the only one on IMDb, but on the film itself there are several other Hackers credited in that capacity (including Emmanual Goldstein, Cereal Killer’s real name). There is also a performance by Urban Dance Squad near the end of the film. Fun fact: the band also had a song on the soundtrack for Gigli. Nice. Oh and as Patrick pointed out, Joey is actually a really nice example of a Planchet. 

What?! The sheer number of Coca-Cola product placements is impressive, not to mention an in-film commercial for Jolt Cola. I obviously would have loved to garb myself head-to-toe in Dade’s wardrobe if possible, but unfortunately, while some of it is listed online, it seems that they are just for show and not for sale. Well, duh. Who would willing part with such treasure?

Where?! This is a fantastic NYC film. Really of the city with the hacker culture, the techno music, Stuyvesant, and just ‘blading up and down town. You could say that there are a number of cities it could take place, but I disagree. Just wouldn’t feel the same anywhere but New York. A.

When?! This actually made me angry. It certainly seemed like summer when they moved to NYC and then Dade starts up at school that Fall and seems to pretty quickly integrate into the Hacker crowd. So when they said the Da Vinci virus was going live on the 14th was pretty set on a vague October 14th date. Then Dade checks his watch the day of the big hack and it says it’s Wednesday, October 18th 1995. WTF, Hackers. You just told me that it was all going down on the 14th and then whoever is responsible for getting a shot of Dade’s watch fumbles the perfectly lobbed pass? At that point I turned off the film and vowed never to watch it again. B+. Nice exact(ish) date, but not necessary to the plot.

I certainly had a fun time watching this movie. In fact, if you removed some of the sillier looking visuals used for the computers and hacking stuff, then I’m not sure I’d say there was much to it that was even BMT. It’s still enjoyable to watch and I think better written than perhaps its given credit for. It’s always fun to watch something like this for BMT because we end up paying so much more attention to the plot. Not just about the intricacies of The Plague’s entire scheme, but about The Plague himself. The film intentionally sets up the world of hacking, which is a world of curiosity, not crime. They are using computers to bring freedom, in that they use their skills to enter and expose things to the light that people want hidden. It’s their belief that they aren’t committing crimes, and in fact the people and companies they are hacking are often the ones committing crimes and then covering it up under the guise of going after the hackers. Is The Plague a hacker, then? Not according to the film. He is obviously elite (duh), but he also is using his skills to keep things hidden (mostly his own crimes). He thinks he’s a hacker, but he’s not. He even tries to be a hacker with his skateboard and disdain for the government agents, but it’s a disguise. One that he exchanges at the end in his attempt to escape to Japan. See? BMT movies that actually aren’t all that bad always get me thinking a lot more than I expect. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I have seen Hackers approximately 30 times … so yeah, let’s go ahead and pretend this is a bad movie. This sounds like a fun game. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Nothing can convince me this is a bad movie. There are ways for me to realize it is maybe a messy movie, or a dumb movie. But a bad movie? Impossible. But I was amused to see if my viewing changed at all given we were now doing it for BMT. What are my expectations? To pop a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy a movie night in. I had no plans to think any less of this movie so don’t even try.

The Good – The movie is pure entertainment, in the cheesiest more hilarious early 90s computer-y way. The choice of doing the computer sequence practically ages incredibly well. While I could imagine these days the film could have aged into its effects over time, there would have been a ten year period from maybe 2000-2010 where Hackers would have looked dumb as shit with out-of-date graphics. Instead the “graphics” still kind of look state of the art because … well, they aren’t graphics, they are models. Lillard and Jolie are really good and it is kind of incredible they are in this movie. It makes New York look mythical, even though in reality it had a pretty bad crime problem at the time. Oh, did I mention it is an incredibly entertaining movie I love?

The Bad – The movie is a complete mess from a directing perspective. I know it is apparently his trademark, but the random pop culture clips they occasionally cut to haven’t aged very well because, to be honest, it has been done better since then. Additionally, they completely botch the timeline of the film which makes it incredibly confusing. It was only now, on probably my 30th watch, and with the intention of close watching the film that I fully discerned The Plague’s ploy and how all of the pieces fit together. The film is non-linear at times, and it is definitely not intentional. The hackers are more criminal than they seem to want to make you believe, but it is all in good fun but like … poor Agent Gill. Mostly messy, with some brutal acting.

The BMT – I love this movie and I’m offended it even qualifies. So no, it is not BMT. It probably enters into a select list of “genuinely good movies” we’ve watched for BMT. Freddy Got Fingered, Tango & Cash, and this. Genuinely good movies. I declare it. Did it meet my expectations? Actually yeah. I’m pretty shocked that I noticed new things during the viewing. The power of BMT close watching I guess. Who knew I still had wonderful things to learn from this film.

Roast-radamus – This will easily enter in The Good for the year. Wait .. is Joey a Planchet (Who?) … I think he is! That’s pretty wonderful. If we had realized this we could have named it the Joey instead. What a life, I love you Jesse Bradford. The Product Placement (What?) is off the chain for this film, but the craziest one I think is for Jolt Cola which runs an honest to god ad in the middle of the film during Razor and Blade’s show. And I do think this is a Setting as a Character (Where?) in that New York City, the city that never sleeps, is quintessential to the plot. Also a great MacGuffin (Why?) with the Gibson and the garbage file, which most characters only know as the thing that Ellingson Minerals really really wants for some reason. That is quite the list for a genuinely good film.

StreetCreditReport.com – While I obviously disagree, CNN did throw it onto a list of worst “tech” films. I have now seen all but Antitrust on that list. Also they admit it is a cult classic, so I think that is a win. Otherwise I couldn’t find it on either underappreciated or worst of lists for 1995. I would put it at number one best Jesse Bradford movies ever. Unfortunately it can’t be on Matthew Lillard’s best of list because Freddy Prinze Jr. isn’t in it.

You Just Got Schooled – Since I watched three movies this weekend I didn’t have time to watch anything else to “school” you. Luckily, the Hacker Manifesto from January 8, 1986 is pretty short and also still online, preserved in Phrack Magazine where it originally appeared. “This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.  We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals.” That was pretty much read out loud in the film. The rest of it sounds frighteningly like the “lazy genius” nonsense you hear people claim sometimes, but … well in this case Loyd Blankenship is actually probably a genuine genius and those fundamental misunderstandings with adults probably did happen when growing up in Texas in the 70s.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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