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Hackers is a 1995 American thriller film directed by Iain Softley and starring Angelina Jolie, Jonny Lee Miller, Renoly Santiago, Matthew Lillard, Lorraine Bracco and Fisher Stevens. The film follows the exploits of a group of gifted high school hackers and their involvement in a corporate extortion conspiracy. In 1988, Dade "Zero Cool" Murphy (age 11) is arrested and charged with crashing 1,507 systems in one day and causing a single-day 7-point drop in the New York Stock Exchange. Upon conviction, his family is fined with $45,000 and he is banned from owning or operating computers or touch-tone telephones until his 18th birthday. Shortly before Dade (Jonny Lee Miller) turns 18, his mother (now divorced) takes a job in New York City. Upon turning 18, Dade calls a local television station, dupes the security guard into giving him the modem's phone number (a tactic known as social engineering) and successfully hacks into the station's computer network, changing the current TV program to an episode of The Outer Limits. However, Dade is "attacked" by a hacker (handle "Acid Burn") on the same network.
Okay, so some liberties have been taken with technology (an Intel P6 chip powers an Apple PowerBook), but at least the terminology the hackers use is essentially right. The story may sound familiar. Bad corporate computer dude Eugene aka Plague (Fisher Stevens) and his accomplice (Lorraine Bracco) team up for a little multi-million dollar theft, when a bunch of young punks stumble upon the plan. The gaggle of teen-aged of hackers includes Dade aka Crash Override (Jonny Lee Miller), Kate aka Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie), and the show-stealing Cereal Killer (Matthew Lillard), among others. Together, the hackers have to foil the theft and avoid having numerous felony charges pinned on them, plus save the world from ecological disaster thanks to a Plague-written virus that capsizes oil tankers.
Whatever. The plot is pretty silly, thanks in part to the combined efforts of the ridiculous Stevens-Bracco combination, who you just can't stop laughing at. And of course, the premise is absurd, placing technology we probably won't see for another 15 years in the hands of kids. Every hacker worth his salt knows that it just isn't that easy to crack systems. At least Matthew Broderick had to resort to a lot of research.
But this is all beside the point, because the film is actually worthwhile. The real draw to Hackers is that it is so unexpectedly funny. Really funny. The comic scenes with the kids (and there are lots of them) are totally hilarious. The 'serious' scenes are too, because they are often so ridiculous. Watching the woefully miscast Bracco trying to pull off her role as 'the sultry executive accessory to the crime' is worth the cost of admission alone.
In the end, seeing Hackers is a lot like watching MTV for two hours. There's not a lot under the surface, the music is fast and loud, the camera shakes around a lot, but it's really colorful and generally fun.