James Earl Jones
Phil Alden Robinson
|"You know I could have been in the NSA, but they found out my parents were married."|
|Time: 126 mins.|
I don't know how SNEAKERS became one of my most-viewed movies, but I can't stop myself from watching it whenever it shows up on TV. Is it the most original film ever made? No. The most funny? Not really, though it does have its' moments. It's merely a well-made film, which you don't find very often these days. Did I agree with every choice? No, but it's obvious that someone had a vision and they stuck with it. What elevates this movie above the average is its impeccable casting. Everyone from Redford to Kingsley to Phoenix gives an absolutely perfect performance. The script is good. They make it much, much better. Caper films are caper films. Somebody steals something they shouldn't and the protagonist generally has to get it back, on pain of death or prison, to save his friends, his future, the world, etc., etc., etc. SNEAKERS doesn't really deviate all that much from the regular plan, but its quirky cast of characters makes the ride more enjoyable than usual.
In this instance, Redford plays Martin Bishop a man on the run from the government for a serious hacking incident in his college years, for which his good friend Cosmo took the fall. His current business is breaking into banks in order for the bank to see if their security system is up to snuff. He's joined by Donald Crease (Poitier), an ex-CIA agent; Whistler (Strathairn), a blind code/sound breaker; Mother (Aykroyd), a high-tech expert who's a conspiracy theorist; and Carl (Phoenix), a young hacker with a lot to learn. Together they make the perfect team for their type of work. Separately, they'd all be in jail. Though profitable, their income is hardly steady. Something seems especially fishy about their latest job offer from the National Security Agency, but Martin has no choice but to except the job. They know his real identity and if he doesn't co-operate, they might just share it with the proper authorities. What they are supposed to steal is the ultimate code-breaking device developed by a forward thinking mathematician.
Of course, they don't know that at the time, and they have several misadventures along the way. They also quickly discover that their "clients" aren't fooling around and will do anything to get their hands on this technology. After all you could rule the world with a device like this. The end gets a little preachy and outrageous, but the whole plot is somewhat unbelievable anyway so it doesn't really matter all that much. The final break-in sequence is staged pretty well, using technology that's high tech but not outrageously silly, like in MI:2. Though Redford is the obvious star of this film, I found the supporting cast to be endearing and hilarious. They may not have had much to do, but their presence is essential. They have many funny scenes and I promise you will never forget Whistler coming to the rescue.
SNEAKERS may have a technology angle, but it never goes crazy with the tech speak, keeping everything understandable and interesting without totally dumbing it down or boring you to tears. At its core, it's more a film about honor and friendship than hacking. It does get a little long and the reasoning behind the theft of this technology is very FIGHT CLUB. Not the violence, of course, but the ideas behind it. Total anarchy brings about equality. It's a seductive idea, however flawed. Smart people will always rise to the top, therefore the cycle would just begin all over again. The elements of this film don't gel perfectly, but it's pretty damn close. If you're looking for a fun action/comedy romp, SNEAKERS is definitely a must-see. Something that tickles your funny bone and engages your brain.