A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 49 – Sneakers

Sneakers – April 18th, 2010

I will preface this by saying that I love this movie. I love this movie with a passion. It’s incredibly well crafted and a lot of fun to watch. It’s tense in the right places and humorous in the right places too. So it feels serious enough, but with tension-breakers so you don’t spend the entire movie with elevated blood pressure. I love the whole cast and I love the writing and I love the plot. It’s just complicated enough without being impossible to follow (though I have seen it many many many times, so that probably helps a good deal).

The thing is, it’s a good suspense/mystery, so it is indeed complicated. The character of Martin is introduced via a flashback where we learn that he and his friend Cosmo committed bank fraud by breaking into the bank accounts of various people and groups such as Richard Nixon and transferring funds to other groups, such as the Society for the Legalization of Marijuana. Cosmo got caught, but Martin had gone out for pizza and escaped. Twenty years later he’s using an assumed name and running a business where, as described in the movie he “breaks into people’s places to prove no one can break into their places.” When it seems the NSA has found him and wants him to get a hold of a device that can decipher any encrypted information in exchange for clearing his name (and otherwise they’ll toss him in jail), he ends up wrapped up in a lot more than he bargained for. I don’t want to go into detail about what happens, because I honestly think anyone who hasn’t seen this who might want to should see it without the twists and turns fully mapped out, but it’s not your typical run-of-the-mill espionage plot.

The key phrase in this movie is “too many secrets.” It embodies the entire movie. No one is telling the entire truth or unembellished truth or any truth at all. People start dying and things turn out not to be what Martin and his crew thought they were. Things turn very dangerous very quickly. It all starts when they play a little with the device they’ve gotten and realize just how powerful it is and what could be done with it. From there on in, things get serious. There are still quips and little funny moments, but you know that there’s a lot at stake in the plot. You follow the crew as they figure it all out and make plans and then put those plans into motion. There’s a lot of talking, but it doesn’t ever feel slow. Part of that is the writing and part of it is the performances.

Martin’s crew is key in this movie. It’s really very much an ensemble piece. He’s got a hacker whiz kid, a blind phone line expert (I mention that he’s blind because his attention to audible details is key at several points), a conspiracy theorist B&E guy and a former CIA agent. His former girlfriend Liz says it well: “You don’t have a business, you have a club! It’s a boys club…” She’s right, of course, and her presence in the movie adds not just a female presence but an outside view. Someone who isn’t steeped in the suspicious nature of Martin’s work. Someone who comes at it with a fresh and often skeptical view. Then too, the crew is also fantastic. My personal favorite character is Whistler, the phone expert. Now, this could be because he has a few fantastic lines and moments and it could be because he’s played by David Strathairn, who I love.

The movie is also fantastic for many other things. Some of the visuals and places are fantastic, like Cosmo’s office and the shots of Martin and Liz playing with the Scrabble tiles on a glass topped table, shot from below. With the latter, I love that you don’t know what they’re seeing until they have something to show you. And then there’s the writing. But that ties into the plot I wrote about above. But even a good plot can have a bad script. That’s not the case here. The script is tight and full of excellent lines and dialogue. In fact, there’s only one scene I really hate watching and as one might expect, given my previously stated issues, it’s a comedy-of-embarrassment type scene. Namely, it’s the “passport” scene. But since that’s one scene in such an otherwise amazing movie? I can cope. It’s well worth the momentary discomfort to watch this movie again.

April 18, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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