“So, people hire you to break into their places… to make sure no one can break into their places?” “It’s a living.” “Not a very good one.”
I suspect that any occupation develops its own subculture over time, and I’m certain that any subculture develops its own cultural touchstones. I’m a computer programmer by trade, so over the years I’ve had ample opportunity to discover what films are considered “must see” movies among computer geeks. Office Space is a popular choice; we can relate, and we’ve all worked with those people. The Matrix is also commonly discussed, though in reality it has about as much to do with programming as Star Wars has to do with farming. I’m not a big fan of Hackers, personally, but it comes up too often to dismiss. And a few benighted souls might throw the name Swordfish around. They usually don’t last long. But if you want to earn my respect as a computer film geek, you need to know the meaning of the phrase “Setec Astronomy”. 1992′s Sneakers is the best film ever made about hacking, blending comedy, mystery, and suspense with a nearly-completely realistic portrayal of computer security.
But suppose you’re not a computer programmer, or hacker, or security guru; after all, statistically speaking, you’re probably not. Does Sneakers have anything to offer for you? How about a narrative that never bores, that spices things up with the occasional laugh-out-loud one-liner, and is directed by the man behind the Oscar-nominated Field of Dreams, Phil Alden Robinson? How about an amazingly star-studded cast, with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, David Straithairn, Mary McDonnell, Ben Kingsley, and James Earl Jones? Of the major players in the film, the only one not to have already been at least nominated for an Oscar by 1992 was Straithairn — and he’d finally get a nomination in 2006 for his role in Good Night and Good Luck. It may not be possible to find a movie with a more densely-packed star cluster. Continue reading