Hackers may or may not strike you as a science fiction movie but it has a general smattering of computer science and there is more than enough fiction to go around. Not quite fitting into a genre is part of the problem for Hackers which has nevertheless survived quite well with a decent cult following more than a decade after its release.
Hackers is not a good movie but it is not a bad movie either. It is a pleasant diversion with some really good lines and some very good performances by a young cast saddled with an unfortunate script. Of special note is the incredible performance of Fisher Stevens as Eugene “The Plague” Belford in what must have been his finest acting hour outside of his recurring role as Chuck Fishman in Early Edition. For many movie goes also of particular note is the role of a young Angelina Jolie as Kate 'Acid Burn' Libby a.k.a. ‘Burn’.
Many of the young cast of this movie has gone on to bigger successful careers. Jonny Lee Miller is probably best known for his roles in Trainspotting and Mansfield Park though he made a bit of a mark on the American small screen in the 2006 fall season action series Smith on CBS. Jesse Bradford, who played the Joey who is the odd focal point of this movie, went on to do Clockstoppers in 2002 a few episodes of The West Wing and the Lisa Kudrow comedy Happy Endings. Matthew Lillard, Cereal Killer, has worked constantly in numerous big budget movies but almost always as a minor character. Thir13en Ghosts, Without Limits, and of course as the indomitable Shaggy in both of the atrocious Scooby Doo movies. Laurence “Lord Nikon” Mason has also had a varied career mostly as one or two episode characters in major television series on network television.
The success of the Hackers cast is an indication of the level of skill that these actors brought to the hands of director Iain Softley. Softley is mostly a stage director and some of that comes out in the goofs and gaffs in the movie. Where he doesn’t drop the ball though is in the difficult task of making sitting in front of a keyboard typing out command line instructions seem exciting. The take over of OTB network is easily one of the classic moments of film in the last decade. Softley’s use of action shots from different movies – a kind of visual sampling – interposed over his characters dialogue still stands as one of the most surprising and satisfying innovations to hit celluloid.
If you aren’t a technoweenie who is going to find fault with every time a keyboard key is punched or an obsolete computer term is used then you will enjoy this movie. It is fun, it has a some good gags, good lines, memorable characters and it may be the only time you see computers on screen as being exciting. I have it in my own permanent DVD collection so of course I recommend it.