I hadn’t heard of this movie at all until it came up on a podcast I randomly listened to a few months ago, and I was intrigued because I love spy-type and hacker-type movies, so I was glad to have a push to see it. I didn’t know much what to expect from tone, though I figured it’d be light, and it was.
Robert Redford plays Marty Bishop, formerly a juvenile delinquent hacker now working to test security systems with a team of folks whose backgrounds aren’t exactly upstanding either. He’s approached by the NSA to get ahold of a box that supposedly can decrypt anything – but is it really the NSA? WHO KNOWS. There’s some double-dealing, but it’s more straight-forward than you might expect, with a lot of it coming down to Marty and his childhood partner who got nabbed back in the day while Marty got away.
I thought that interpersonal rivalry thing was a bit tired, but I enjoyed the film as a whole, with its combination of hacking, espionage, and heist, all things that I greatly enjoy in movies. The cast is pretty great, too, with David Strathairn as a blind hacker who is more capable than most people (but is still pretty non-plussed when Marty tells him to drive the van, a great scene), River Phoenix as the young guy on the team (so funny to see him so soon after raving about him in Stand by Me, though to be honest, he’s not a standout here as I would’ve expected – he’s fine, but overshadowed by the older powerhouses), Dan Aykroyd (he was also just kind of there and the fact that his nickname was “Mother” threw me off SO MUCH), Mary McDonnell (sad to say I TOTALLY didn’t recognize her despite being a huge BSG/President Roslin fan), Ben Kingsley, and effing SIDNEY POITIER. The whole thing was worth it just to see Sidney Poitier take command of every room he walked into, no matter who else was in there.
It was a good matchup with The Abyss, both movies featuring a disparate team of experts working together to solve a problem, but with a variant tone that made them refreshing to see close together. Interestingly, the heist angle of this also fit with the third film I watched this week, Escape from Alcatraz – escape/heist films scratch the same itch for me, so it was cool to see both of these films, again very different from each other, in the same week.
Stats and stuff…
directed by Phil Alden Robinson, screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson & Lawrence Lasker
starring Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Ben Kingsley, River Phoenix
I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Sneakers entered my chart:
Sneakers beats Successful Alcoholics
Sneakers loses to Breakfast on Pluto
Sneakers beats The Devil’s Double
Sneakers loses to Way Down East
Sneakers loses to Frozen River
Sneakers loses to Stella Dallas
Sneakers loses to Bunny Lake is Missing
Sneakers loses to Dark Victory
Sneakers loses to The Desert Song (1953)
Sneakers beats A Corny Concerto
Sneakers loses to Twin Warriors
Sneakers beats Lambchops
Final ranking #1360 out of 3642 films on my chart (63%)
It is now my #4 Phil Alden Robinson film, my #4 Robert Redford film, my #2 Sidney Poitier film, my #3 Ben Kingsley film, my #30 Action Comedy, my #14 Caper, and my #17 film of 1992.
Sneakers was recommended by Ben Lott, a friend from the Flickcharters group on Facebook. Averaging together this #1360 ranking with my #768 ranking of his other film, The Abyss, gives Ben an average ranking of 1064.
A few more screenshots…