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A Film About Hackers for Gen X Computer Geeks: Reasonably Good If Rather Fantastical

7/10
Author: classicalsteve from Oakland, CA
12 October 2015

"Hackers" is exactly as the name implies. However, much of the film makes it appear hackers can target credit cards, alter traffic light systems, and issue arrest warrants at will. Certainly, hackers have done things on a large scale, such as the recent hacking of Sony Pictures Studio and Target stores. If hackers really had the ability to do all the things implied by the film, we wouldn't be able to function in the mechanized world as it is.

The film begins when Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller), age 11, engaged one of the most successful and damaging computer hacks in the history of internet infiltration, crashing 1500+ systems. He's sentenced to probation, his parents fined $10,000's, and he's forbidden to use a computer until age 18. Fast-forward 7 years. Now he's at a high school in New York where he meets fellow computer hackers Kate Libby, a.k.a. Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie), Ramόn Sánchez (Renoly Santiago), Joey Pardella (Jesse Bradford) and Lord Nikon (Laurence Mason). At first they see hacking as a kind of game, looking to one-up each other.

Dade and Kate then decide to have a competition: who can do the best hacking of one of the poor schmucks from the FBI who has been targeting hackers, Agent William "Dick" Gill. The stakes: if she loses, she has to go on a date with him and wear a dress, or if he loses, he has to become her slave. So they begin the competition, a kind of virtual football match, in true hacking style. They invalidate his credit card, put up a porn ad in his name and give out his business phone number where NY gays and transvestites can call him. They even pull the worst trick: they indicate in his file that he's deceased.

It's all good fun until the youngest of the hackers, Joey, breaks into "The Gibson", an Ellingson Mineral Company supercomputer. He notices there's a strange virus in the system and downloads some of it, putting it on a partially downloaded 3.5" floppy disk (remember those?). The FBI at the behest of their systems security analyst Eugene Belford, a.k.a. The Plague (Fisher Stevens), tracks down Joey and arrests him, but not before he hides the disk. Later, Belford and the FBI storm into Joey's house, and the systems security analyst Belford threatens Dade to give them the information they want, which is hidden on the disk. Dade declines saying he doesn't play well with others, to which Belford takes out his frustration on a piece of music equipment in Dade's bedroom. The hackers then discover a virus, which was not written by the hackers, is going to wreak havoc with the company via large cargo ships at sea. They realize the blame will most likely be put on them.

While this is certainly not the best film of this type, it's a good one. Some of the visuals are stunning, and interestingly, the movie doesn't come off dated even though it was produced a couple of decades before this writing. The characters are rather interesting, depicting Generation X types who hack into computer systems, not for a living, but for fun. And I liked Fisher Stevens as the former hacker turned security analyst who understands hacker culture. This film was made from the point of view of young computer geeks of Generation X. The older generation, Boomers and Silent in other words, come off rather stilted and nondescript, which I agree is a good depiction, being a Generation X'er myself.

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Hackers contains all of the 90s tech and clichés we all love

7/10
Author: Jack Munson from United States
17 September 2015

While in a technical perspective this isn't the best movie, it has a charm that attracts me. The story is very simple, it's about hackers getting framed for something and the CIA and FBI going after them. While this may seem very generic it has it's unique charm that it adds.

The movie isn't super serious, it has a lot of comedy that keeps the light mood and silly 90s visuals of what hacking looks like. Near the end the main character even puts on this thing that looks like the Google Glass! The light tone makes this movie enjoyable and fun for multiple viewings.

The acting is okay, nothing great or bad. This movie was in the early careers of some of the actors, so you may recognize some faces of today's good actors.

Now, I have to talk about the soundtrack. It is filled with 90s electronic beats that add so much to the atmosphere of the film, making some scenes really intense and fun. If the film would have been made with the generic songs of the era it probably wouldn't be as great.

Hackers is a long time favorite of mine. I saw it as a kid and have loved it since then. It's worth a watch and I bet you'll have a good time watching it.

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Dumb but fun

7/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
6 September 2015

Incredibly boneheaded techno thriller, but it's so goony it ends up being quite entertaining. A group of teens (among them an incredibly nubile Angelina Jolie with a darling pixie cut) are expert hackers, but they're up against an even more powerful evil hacker (Fisher Stevens) who is trying to frame them for a crime he is going to commit. Jonny Lee Miller is the male lead, a notorious hacker from a young age. Among others, Matthew Lillard also co-stars, and is as annoying as always. But, really, every character here is quite annoying, so he doesn't grate too much. The film gets by mostly on its weird, actually kind of fun aesthetics. Computer visualizations are always stupid, and, in a movie from 1995, they're going to look even more stupid to a modern audience. The costumes are particularly amazing. One might be tempted to say that this movie is incredibly '90s in its style, but, really, no one in the 1990s ever dressed or spoke like this. It's like a film slightly outside of time. I think the director wanted it to seem slightly futuristic. Instead it's just slightly crazy.

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Hack the planet!!!

8/10
Author: mr-mcphee from United States
30 July 2015

Soundtrack: 9 Pulsating, funky mix of post-punk electronica. Just killer.

Costumes: 9 This isn't the way people actually dressed in the 90's, especially hackers, but who cares, the costumes just work.

Characters: 8 Great characters with their own personalities, a lot of energy in the main characters, and even though some characters play on old tropes (stuffy FBI agent, cartoonishly evil villain), at their worst, they still don't feel too clichéd.

Plot: 7 This movie manages to mix a few interesting plots into each other somewhat naturally. The main plot is a bit convoluted, and probably hard to understand to the average person, but actually makes sense, unlike what some critics said, and the competition between Crash and Burn is a great take on the love-hate relationship.

Cinematography and effects: 10 Thankfully relies a lot on practical effects to provide a totally fictional, but totally creative and beautiful, depiction of computers. Projecting the screens onto the actors faces, the super computer as translucent forest of structures, morphing the New York skyline into a circuit board; all amazing and novel.

In summary, not 100% true-to-life, but for the better. They simultaneously try to pay respect to real hacker culture at the time, while extrapolating it into a stylish and exciting universe. Unappreciated in its time, but a cult classic that still holds fans for a good reason.

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Welcome to the future of the past

8/10
Author: Fluke_Skywalker from United States
12 April 2015

I saw this three times in the early autumn of '95, and those admissions likely accounted for about half of its box office. I was dazzled by its visuals and techno-electronica soundtrack, and mesmerized by one of its young stars; a Ms. Angelina Jolie.

I knew the instant I saw her that she was going to be a huge star. In fact, many people in the cast--then complete unknowns--would go on to success. Johnny Lee Miller, Matthew Lillard, Jesse Bradford, Marc Anthony, Wendell Pierce. But everything and everyone else ceases to exist when she's on screen.

I talked the movie up to everyone who would listen, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. 20 years later it remains one of my favorite films, and as I understand it, it's developed a cult following. Through adult eyes, its "Hack the planet" lip service is pretty obvious for what it is, but strictly as a piece of pop art, I absolutely love this movie.

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I enjoyed it

6/10
Author: sirfire from Australia
24 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a gem of a 90's movie.

Before I start let me say I have built two datacentres and I am currently a domain admin of another in the telco industry so I will not comment on the IT glitches.

Hackers is a story about liberation and fighting the man and that us hackers have more morals than the governments and people who control the government who trying to stop them. I did get nostalgic when i heard things like 28k bit per second and PCI bus with direct memory access. I wonder if the actors knew that a modem was short for modulator/ demodulater :)

For this story to work it had to have some magic, as someone else highlighted ... "if you really see a real hacker at work it is truly boring stuff" btw computers do zeros and ones at best .... not these mathematical formulas that was blowing past screen but that would be boring. Amazing graphics on these PC screens didn't exist back then which IMHO made it date better than other Computer movies of its day.

I liked how some scary facts about the government holding files on its people which you would be amazed today on what they hold on you. And you would be surprised just how many skimming scams are going on .... these issues hold true today.

It was a more innocent time when only a select few knew how to do things and I even remember doing the tape digital sounds .... oh those where the days :)

Enjoy it for what it was .... oh and you get to see sexy Jolie when she was only 19 .... pretty simple story line and some truism that even today not many people would know.

I loved the early days of computers and we all thought it make the world better, safer, provide us with freedom, make it more transparent. Sadly it has made it for the worse and even our civil liberties are all but gone.

I was in IT in the 90s and i think my pride back then stopped me from watching it but I am glad to see it as it is worth my time and hopefully your time to watch it.

good stuff.

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incompetently written, fun

5/10
Author: Roedy Green from Victoria, BC. Canada
7 October 2014

Making a movie about computers is difficult. Even the latest equipment looks ridiculously antique within a few years of release. There is not really anything to see -- just people sitting at keyboards. You must interpret it poetically. There is not much action. The public has no idea what is really going on.

The best attempts, like Tron, work at two levels, direct action for the kids, and subtle in-jokes and metaphors for the computer savvy.

Hackers has lots of energy, but it is downright silly.

For a start, the techno-babble is complete gibberish. The screenwriters did not even know the difference between a modem, a screen and RAM. I think they composed the dialogue by looking up computer jargon in a dictionary and throwing the words into a hat. They make zero attempt at plausibility.

This incompetence quickly destroys the illusion we are viewing whiz kids capable of bringing down civilisation as we know if they so chose.

Most of the dialogue is theme and variation on "I'm the king of the castle, and you're the dirty rascal". It sounds like something first graders would say. It is so juvenile, it is jarring.

Another jarring thing. Dade and his mother stayed in a one-bedroom apartment where mom slept on the couch. Yet Dade had thousands of dollars to spend on clothes and hairstyling.

There is a goony character called Cereal. He appears to be brain damaged, perhaps from too many drugs. Yet we are supposed to believe he took over all TV channels of earth.

But the main problem with the movie was the lead Dade, played by Johnny Lee Miller. He was badly miscast. His hair was expensively bleached and each curl pressed into place. He wore a leather jacket costing thousands of dollars that Liberace might have coveted. His facial features were so sharp he could cut cheese with them, but he had no sizzle. He came across as soggy as yesterday's waffle, a sort of young Lawrence Welk. His voice was as flat as Houston astronaut ground control.

Angelina Jolie did a great job with the atrocious dialogue they handed her. She was like a time bomb about to explode. It is too bad the movie was not written more around her acting skills.

A touch I did like was the way the characters got around their city with dazzling speed on roller blades. It added some visual excitement and flash.

Some of the CGI visuals to poetically represent hacking into computers were of course completely unrealistic, but at least interesting and metaphorically evocative.

A movie is a team. The writers were incompetent though the basic plot was quite clever. Most of the actors were great. The visual effects people were ahead of their time (but of course dated now). A movie is as good as its weakest link.

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hackers is a film based out of cyberculture of north carolina

10/10
Author: kdouglas003 from raleigh, nc
7 February 2014

its been enough years now that it can be said - this is a story out of north Carolina, and the general atmosphere of computing in north Carolina

it allegedly involves a mother, but they crossed that out and put in an actor and a well majorly actress, to support that role- which was the ideal

it is a great film, it was well put together the interest for it was mined off of the net

but there's a bit of an issue that the people that were used for the story for the film remember having seen it in a theater - when they never did - and witnessed it in their sleep

there's enough supporting evidence to support this , but as the film that made Angelina jolie - her career appears to have not done so well because she was detached from the origin of the film, and its possible appropriate credits were not given

I rate this as a 10 star film, since I know the main story that it was based on - and can provide photos and all of the background information that the film was based on to prove it - but I am mostly concerned that it was kind of a twist on a story that was not good, to promote it as good - and the general production didn't particularly understand that the original story was not good, when releasing it to the ... distribution, indicating that it was a good thing - when its a good spin on a good thing and a good depiction and a great movie

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The Hackers Of Yore

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
3 November 2011

Revisiting 'Hackers' after a long time, not because it's a great movie or anything but the reasons are nostalgic. Needless to say, computer technology and cyberspace have come a long way since the movie's initial release and so obviously it has a dated look. I mean, the special effects are quite bad. 'Hackers' is pretty much another teen saves the world movie, this time using technology. Although it is a teen flick, I liked that it's not heavily sugarcoated. The romance isn't overly mushy though poorly developed. The comedy aspect of it works. The pacing, especially midway, is very slow. Now the script is definitely full of holes but there is a reason why this film has achieved cult classic status. It has heart. One can easily relate to the characters. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Fisher Stevens, Lorraine Bracco and Matthew Lillard do a good enough job. Jolie looks quite cute and sultry and Bracco is hot. However, where acting is concerned, Jesse Bradford steals the show as the youngest one in the group, the rookie, who tries to fit in. He appears spontaneous and his performance is very natural. In addition, to the good performances, 'Hackers' has an awesome soundtrack. So when one expects something unrealistic and cheesy and is not looking to nitpick, 'Hackers' can be fun.

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"I'm gonna triple the RAM"

Author: marastar_2002 from United States
22 November 2010

When it comes to Hackers, you have to take it for what it is. Which is a completely ridiculous, over-the-top, happy-go-lucky techno-fantasy—and AMAZING.

Hackers presents every tech nerd's dream. Every geeky kid wants to be as good looking as Johnny Lee Miller, have Angelina Jolie fall for him, beat some skeezy bad guy at his own game, and live in a psychedelically manic underground world where you rollerblade everywhere with your best friends, secure in the knowledge that you're "elite".

For anyone who knows anything about computers, the "hacking" and technology parts of this movie are the best (funniest, most ludicrous) parts. But what the hell, it makes sense in context with the film's absolute lack of sense.

So don't watch the movie expecting any sort of reality other than the surreality contained within the film. Just watch it for the pretty people pretending they know something about hacking, and enjoy.

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