A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 24 – Hackers

Hackers – March 24, 2010 (I realize the date is easy to find on these posts, but I’m noting the date in the case of posting being delayed – it’s a habit I want to have)

Make no mistake, this is a bad movie. Completely aside from the laughable plot and ridiculous characters, the tech in the movie is either completely non-existent or was already out of date when filming began. It’s hilarious in so many ways. And yet I love it. I love it beyond belief. It’s got some fantastically cheesy moments and it’s got some fun stuff like Penn Gillette as the clueless security guard and Fisher Stevens as “The Plague”. And Stevens is an Oscar winner now!

Now, I’ve done some reading on a few of the early big deal hacking cases. In particular, Kevin Mitnik, rtm and the East Germany group that Cliff Stoll tracked down through dogged persistence. And I will say, a few things, like the ban on touching a computer or phone and the shutting down of massive swaths of the internet? Those are straight out of a couple of those cases. Mitnik got hit especially hard and when I was in college I think he was still banned from even touching a computer with a single finger. So I’ll give the movie a nod there. What I won’t give it a nod on is pretty much everything else, from the hacking the main characters do to the GUIs on every damn computer in the movie.

Not that I won’t watch and enjoy and laugh my ass off when the characters get all excited about a 28.8 baud modem. OMG! 28.8! I mean, man, I remember being totally blown away by the very idea of a Jazz drive. So I should cut the movie some slack, but not too much, because that would be silly. The level of accuracy is about an inch high.

Okay, for those who don’t want to touch this movie with a ten foot pole, here’s the quick plot: Dade Murphy is a super hacker who fucked up a shitload of computers when he was eleven years old and got slapped with a computer and touchtone phone ban for the next seven years. He and his mother move to NYC when he’s eighteen and there he befriends a group of popular pretty people at his high school who happen to also be super hackers. One mistakenly hacks into a computer at an oil company and copies a ‘garbage’ file which is actually a malicious worm that the company’s resident tech guru has installed to steal money from the company. Knowing his little plan has been seen, the tech guy concocts a virus to frame the hacker for and calls in the NSA, hoping to pin everything on the kid who copied the file. Soon he discovers that Dade is connected to the hacker and uses his record to blackmail him into helping him. Then Dade tells his friends and they stage a massive hacker attack on the oil company to tie up their computers and attention so they can get enough incriminating evidence against the tech guy.

It’s convoluted and totally ridiculous and the climactic virtual battle is hilariously over the top. And then completely aside from all the fake tech there’s some amazing fake law! But fake law’s pretty standard movie fare. It’s the fantasy tech that really makes this movie something special. Very, very special.


March 24, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment


March 24, 2010


“So you wanna be hackers/ Code crackers/ Slackers”  Sorry… this movie just starts Weir Al’s All About the Pentiums running in my head.  Its a movie about hackers for people who know nothing about computers.  The user interfaces in this movie are beyond ludicrous.  It’s not just that they look far beyond anything that the tech of the day, it’s that they don’t make any blooming sense.  It’s a common thing in movies, of course.  We’ll be exploring it further when we review Minority Report and Johnny Mnemonic.  Real computer hacking is too boring to make a movie, of course.

I know computer people.  They’re pale introverts who quote Python and code for MUDs.  They understand PPP and have too many wires behind their computers.  They play video games.  They think in hexadecimal and know assembly code.  (Or at least they did in my day.  Nowadays it’s all botnets and DNS attacks.)  They do not have loud parties or hang out in clubs.  (Though the Wipeout like game in their club IS kind of cool.)

So it kind of takes me out of the movie that there’s all this magic tech and the hackers are portrayed as such hip cool kids.  Still, it’s a fun if silly movie.  And it has a totally kickass soundtrack.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment