Hackers – Flashback Films


Hackers is a 1995 Crime Drama from director Iain Softley.  The film stars Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Mathew Lillard, Jesse Bradford, and Fisher Stevens.  It is the story of Dade Murphy, who goes by the “handle†Zero Cool, and his hacker friends.  The story opens up with a young 11-year-old Dade who gets arrested for hacking and crashing 1507 computer systems causing a 7 point drop in the New York Stock Exchange.  His probation bans from using any computer or touch-tone phone.

Fast forward 7 years later to Dade’s 18th birthday.  He now legally can use a computer and phone line and have moved to a new city: Dade begins hacking into a local tv station in order to watch old reruns of the Twilight Zone.  While trying to watch is beloved programming he finds that he has hacked into another hacker’s territory.  He is met up with a Hacker who goes by Acid Burn.  He is met with resistance and booted from the system.

In the days following Dade start at his new school and meets Kate played by Angelina Jolie.  He is immediately drawn to her and does everything that he can to know more about her.  Dade goes as far as hacking the school’s computer system to change his class schedule just to be in her classes.  They begin to a nice love/hate relationship with each other.

“Mess with the best, die like the rest.”

In the process of getting closer to Kate he meets Phreak, a fellow hacker at the school.  This connection brings him into the “hacker†scene and meets up with fellow hackers Nikon, Cereal, & Joey.  While at a house party hosted by Kate, Dade finds out that Kate is Acid Burn.  Once Kate and Dade who each other are they start a “hacker†war against each other trying to outdo the other.

During this time Joey ends up hacking a major corporation who’s security officer is overseen by administered by “The Plague†played by Fisher Stevens.  Joey ends up picking up part of a garbage file that is actually the computer worm written to steal money from the corporation.  This worm is written by the security officer.  When he finds out, he uses his own computer skills to design a virus in the server and blame hackers for trying to cause massive destruction.  This allows him to tap the FBI to track down Joey.

With Joey in custody, Kate and Dade make a truce to set their differences aside and with the help of their friends work to take down Agent Dick Gill played by Wendell Pierce and find the source of the worm.  As the FBI is getting closer to finding them, they are getting closer to finding the source of the worm.  With the help of other hackers, they save the day, their friend and shed light on the true purpose of the catastrophic virus.

What I Liked

I love that this film does not take itself seriously.  This movie takes place when the internet was in its absolutely infancy.  Nobody knew or understood what it was back then.  Hackers was made during a time when so many liberties could take place, and many wouldn’t be the wiser.  It is a wild ride and over the top.  You can see the chemistry between Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie is evident.  It must have been so much so, that they ended up getting married in real life.

This film introduced me to the wild and eccentric Matthew Lillard.  He is one of the most entertaining characters in this movie.  He plays the idiot savant type of character.  The things that he does and the things he says are just as crazy as his skills on a computer.  Some of his dialog just makes you want to love him more.  This film and his character have provided me with one of my favorite life quotes.  “Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most.† He quotes it the a more modern-day poet, Ozzy Osbourne.  It was not until years later that I found out that it is Mark Twain.

This movie is wrapped in a massive dose of beautifully crafted early 90’s EDM music.  Hackers pushed the EDM music so much, it spanned 3 soundtracks.  How many movies can say that?  Obviously not all the music was used in the movie and some track were inspired by the movie, but it is these soundtracks that lead me to a whole new genre of music I personally had never really listened to previously.

What I Didn’t Like

This is hard to say.  I enjoy so many things about this movie.  One of my biggest issues with this movie, is not the over the top style that it is, it is more that it just can’t hold up today.  Due to the ever so changing technologies of today, everything about this movie is dated.  This is nothing that the creators could have helped.  That’s just how tech works. 

The wardrobe is also something that is a bit confusing.  Maybe this was intentional?  Maybe we are meant to believe that this is some sort of alternate reality where modern day clothes are just that different and accepted.  Futuristic clothes with dated technology.  The movie just doesn’t know what decade it is living in.  It is nothing but leather, spandex, and weird designs.

Final Thoughts

Everything that I do not like about this movie is extremely outweighed by the things that I love about this movie.  The on-screen chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller can be seen.  Matthew Lillard cranks it to 11 and everyone one else brings their A-game.  Is this movie an award-winning film?  No.  Is it worth every minute of a watch, Yes!  This film has been in my collection for two decades and I watched it many times with no regrets.

Overall Score 4.5/5 with no remorse

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About the Author
Brian is one of the co-founders of Back Lot 605. Movies have always been a passion of his. Some of his closest friends call him a walking movie database. He grew up watching classics like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars. He has a soft spot for good classics like The Sting, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sound of Music, & The Wizard of Oz. Brian enjoys a good comic book movie any day and loves The Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has a nerd crush on Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, & Robert Rodriguez. He has been married for ten years and has two handsome twin sons.
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