Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
Running Time: 2h 6min
Cosmo: There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!
Cosmo: I cannot kill my friend.
[each member of the team makes a request in return for the decryption chip]
Mother: Okay, boss, this LTX-71 concealable mike is part of the same system that NASA used when they faked the Apollo Moon landings. They had the astronauts broadcast around the world from a sound stage at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California. So it worked for them, shouldn't give us too many problems.
Cosmo: Posit: People think a bank might be financially shaky.
Mother: We got bupkis! We turn ourselves in now, they'll give us twenty years in the electric chair!
CoverUps.com Rating: 3 UFOs
By the CoverUps.com staff
A scrappy coalition of lovable misfits saves capitalism from catastrophe in "Sneakers," a tech-happy thriller that's the equivalent of "The Seven Samurai" with computer nerds. Robert Redford recaptures his old box office mojo as Martin Bishop, an always-composed electronics whiz forced into a covert operation by the shadowy National Security Agency. His next-to-impossible mission should he choose to accept it: nabbing a code descrambler from the enemies of the NSA, a cabal right out of "JFK," replete with Russians, the Mafia, the FBI and the CIA.
Despite all the crypto and political claptrap, this is a boisterously funny no-brainer/guilty pleasure. It starts with a flashback to the '60s, when compuhippie Bishop went underground to escape the feds. They didn't appreciate his illegally transferring GOP funds into the Black Panther Party's checking account. Now in charge of a beleaguered security business, he is unearthed by the NSA, which offers to clear his record — but only if he and his crew of happy hackers agree to heist a top-secret black box from the San Francisco scientist who invented it.
Further motivated by the lure of a monetary reward, the team develops an intricate scheme for snatching the black box, which holds a microchip capable of accessing all the computer networks in America. Alas, the black box falls into the possession of a ponytailed megalomaniac (Ben Kingsley), who plans to eliminate all data pertaining to property — stock transfers, deeds, patents etc. — so there will be "no more rich people and no more poor people." Now the sneakers must hatch a plan ten times as elaborate to recover the black box from a fortress guarded by motion sensors and voiceprint sentries in addition to the usual bells and whistles.
Phil Alden Robinson of "Field of Dreams" directed and co-wrote the script with producers Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker (of the beloved thriller "WarGames"). Robinson displays a geeky fascination for the gear and gadgetry, the bleeping blinking bytes and bits, but thankfully never cheats the personal side of the cast, whose untroubled thievery reminds us of school kids playing hooky in the colorful clamor of a video arcade.
Dan Aykroyd is the featured wisecracker as Mother, an ex-con who believes (bless him!) everything's a conspiracy — "Cattle mutilations are up" — to the great irritation of Sidney Poitier, as Crease, a testy ex-CIA man forced into early retirement. David Strathairn is the handicapped member of the crew, a blind sound expert who teaches the others to see with their ears.
The team also includes River Phoenix, sweetly ephemeral as the youngest sneaker, and Mary McDonnell, breezily winsome as the fed-up ex-girlfriend of the hero. A teacher of gifted children, she is forever admonishing the boys that they haven't grown up yet — an immensely futile talking point in a story like this. "Sneakers" isn't about growing up. It's about playing games, cracking code, flinging acronyms. It's a candy store for techies, and a hugely entertaining time-killer.