STARRING: Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, Laurence Mason, Renoly Santiago, Fisher Stevens, Alberta Watson

1995, 105 Minutes, Directed by: Iain Softley

The premise (computer-happy kids hack into the wrong system, and the Forces of Repression come after them) is recycled from John Badham's 1983 WarGames.

Hackers, it seems have changed a lot since the mawkish teenager of WarGames. Hackers, if we are to believe this movie, are a fashionable lot who looks as if they have just come back from a rave somewhere. They all listen to techno and they can do more or less do all the incredible things that we saw the bad guys in The Net do if you so much as let them near a modem and a computer. This aside, little of the anarchist morality for which some hackers are well-known shines through. These kids are, besides their propensity for computer goodies, your average next door types. As American as mom's Apple pie - they are, after all, the good guys.

Besides these qualms, and the fact that this film is at times more like a music video and therefore lacking any real narrative tension, Hackers is an enjoyable cyberpunk romp. Just don't expect any real insight into the Hacker subculture and don't take it seriously and you're on your way to an passable evening at the cinema. Take along lots of popcorn . . .

(There are several computer "in-jokes" - the supercomputer hacked by the good guys is called a "Gibson," probably after godfather-of-cyberpunk author William Gibson. The bad guy travels under the surname "Babbage" who we all know was the Victorian "inventor" of the computer . . .)



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