Hackers [1995]

As a depiction of the computer-hacker underground, this movie is bogus to the bone. As a thriller, it's cartoonish and conventional. 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. And the corporate-creep bad guy, played by Fisher Stevens, steeples his fingers and growls mossy villainous clich├ęs. ("By the time they realize the truth, we'll be long gone with all the money.") For all its postmodern trappings the movie is working with sub-prehistoric storytelling tools. But it does succeed on one level, as a movie about adolescent bonding and alienation. The director, Iain Softley, helmed the Beatles-in-Hamburg biopic Backbeat, and he seems to have an instinct for the emotions that pull kids together around common interests and the insecurities that drive them apart. The familiar crises of loyalty and betrayal have an ache of real loneliness. It doesn't hurt that the two stars, Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy Williamson in Trainspotting) and Angelina Jolie (Gia), are just about equally gorgeous and charismatic; their longing glances steam up the screen. --David Chute

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