Now this one may seem more of a surprise in the category of favourites of my collection, but I’ve owned it for years and this review will explain why I enjoy it. Jonny Lee Miller plays Dade Murphy, also known as notorious hacker Zero Cool who was arrested at the age of 11 for crashing 1507 systems in one day and banned from using a computer until his 18th birthday; when that day finally arrives his skills lead him to meet new friends and discover a plot to unleash a dangerous computer virus, unless they can use their skills as hackers to stop it. Also starring Angelina Jolie, Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, Laurence Mason, Renoly Santiago, Fisher Stevens, Alberta Watson, Lorraine Bracco and Wendell Pierce.
Miller and Jolie may have been around for years at this point and you’ll be very familiar with their work but in this film at the respective ages of 23 and 20, they were certainly fresh faced actors, learning their craft and it’s enjoyable to watch thinking of where their careers have taken them. Miller as Dade is the typical angst-filled, competitive, jealous and sexually frustrated teenager, managing to do a pass-able American accent and giving us the underdog hero we all love to root for. Jolie gives us the female equivalent, brash and overconfident, the cool girl that keeps her distance and every bit as competitive, the constant one up man-ship throughout the film is made more enjoyable by their great chemistry, judging by the fact they were married not long after it clearly was both on and off screen. The supporting cast (Lillard, Bradford and Santiago) all add their own personal quirks and eccentricities, which gives the film a brilliant energy and bright spark that is fun to watch.
The story follows a similar theme, it’s colourful and full of personality, it may not be realistic nor complicated but neither of those aspects are necessary in this case. The massively loveable element of the film is that it’s undeniably and unapologetically 90s, the clothes, the rollerblades, the technology, the special effects and the language, everything is entirely typical and nostalgic which is utterly entertaining to watch. The plot, though relatively simple has the aura of your classic, teenagers save the world, fighting back against authority and demonstrating their freedom to be young hackers who will break into your television stations to put on something they actually want to watch, to name one example. It moves at a good pace, keeping things constantly going forward and doesn’t fall into the trap of letting moments stretch out unnecessarily.
At its most simple, it’s a fun, 90s, teenage adventure, it may not be made by the world’s best film-makers with both director (Iain Softely) and writer (Rafael Moreu) having fairly unimpressive careers post-Hackers but a film doesn’t have to be the best thing you’ve ever seen, to be something you enjoy. It’s fun, entertaining and full of energy, about standing up for yourself and being who you are, even when someone tells you that you should be different.