Bob Balaban's dark comic horror about a young boy suspecting his suburban parents to be cannibals
On Film4: 7 Dec 12:40AM
Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie star in an enjoyably daft cyberspace thriller. A bunch of high-school kids uncover a plan to unleash a deadly virus for which the authorities think they're responsible
The mid-90s saw a rush of movies cashing in on the birth of the internet, most of them hamstrung by the fact that a) their target audiences knew far more about virtual reality than the filmmakers, and b) there's nothing very exciting about watching people type anyway. Hackers avoids the second pitfall by incorporating lots of comic-book action, but IT consultants may be crying into their coffee at the risible plot.
Teenage hacker Dade (Miller, just prior to Trainspotting) aka 'Crash Override' aka 'Zero Cool' (isn't the latter a bit insulting?) breaks into the files of evil genius 'The Plague' (Stevens) - it not what his mother calls him - and discovers plans for a multi-million dollar fraud. Furthermore, Plague has created a virus intended to wreak environmental havoc by sinking oil tankers. Cue a race against the clock as Dade tries to foil Plague, shake off the authorities and impress feisty skate-punk Kate (Jolie, then a newcomer) aka 'Acid Burn'.
Backbeat and later K-PAX director Iain Softley draws on War Games and Bond but it's MTV that exerts the greatest influence. It's largely down to Miller and Jolie - fantastically cool, or at least a mid-90s Hollywood producer's idea of it, in their skate gear and piercings - that the film succeeds. Matthew Lilliard is great as wise-ass hacker 'Cereal Killer'. The kids' interaction is nicely observed and there are plenty of decent gags. As a convincing thriller however, it's baggier than a pair of skater's pants.
Silly but enjoyable Generation Y adventure that gets away with it thanks to some good looking action and the visible spark between Miller and his future missus Jolie.
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