8 out of 10

Sneakers is a light-hearted techno-thriller that entertains.

Sneakers is about a rag-tag team of industrial espionage experts. By themselves, they would be individual nobodies. As a team, they are a group that big corporations hire to break into their facilities to find faults in the security systems. Leading the team is a 60’s activist, Bishop (Robert Redford). Also on the team are Mother (Dan Aykroyd), a paranoid man who has more conspiracy theories than Fox Mulder (of The X-Files); former CIA man Crease (Sidney Poitier); a young hacker Carl (River Phoenix); and a blind guy, Whistler (David Strathairn).

Two NSA (National Security Agency) agents approach the team to recover a black box. It seems that the black box contains circuitry that is the ultimate code-breaker. This black box could for instance take a scrambled data transfer from the Air Traffic Control system and decode it for anyone to see or manipulate. Want to crash a plane? Quite a dangerous weapon if it fell into the wrong hands.

As big as a computer geek as I am, watching movies that use computers in them is more often than not a painful experience. Hollywood never gets computer stuff correct on the screen and Hollywood is the worst when it pushes the computer technology as the basis for a movie I can’t remember how hard I laughed when I watched Sandra Bullock in The Net. Things are different with Sneakers, though. Computer technology is the basis for the movie, but director Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), surprisingly, keeps the computer stuff to a minimum. This works very well for Sneakers. Computers, though the basis for the story, aren’t really put to the forefront when it comes to screen time. Most of the computers used in Sneakers are just boxes with big glowing screens.

The script for Sneakers, written by Lawrence Lasker and Phil Alden Robinson, is smart and tries to be smarter than it really is. The “bad guy” in the movie can be easily guessed after the first few minutes of the film. But, because the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, the script works out well.

Robert Redford is fits perfectly into the role of Bishop, the guy who gets in over his head. The rest of the team doesn’t get enough to do to be memorable. Though Aykroyd is memorable in any film, his appearance in Sneakers feels odd. Aykroyd’s Mother is hilarious when he starts to talk to Poitier’s Crease. There is another performer in the film that is oily and slimy and fits into the role very well. If I give away the identity of the character or the name of the actor that portrays him I’d spoil the film. Let’s just say the character has a room filled with body heat and motion detectors.

The only big complaint I have with Sneakers is that it runs just a tad too long, clocking in at six minutes over two hours. Other small things felt out of place with the film. For instance, the homeless guy outside of the NSA office just didn’t feel right. The overly nerdy “my voice is my passport” guy from the toy company felt way out of place. Some of the computer stuff looked strange, though this is just a matter of the equipment being outdated.

You can find Sneakers on video and DVD and I’d recommend the film. Sneakers has the ‘fun factor’ that most other films based on computers are lacking. Sneakers also doesn’t take the computer stuff too seriously. If you want a film that will thrill, check out Sneakers.

Edited by Cher Johnson.