Hackers (1995) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoopy's notes in white: 

In the two words above, you have all the review you need, "Hackers" and "1995". Given the rate of acceleration in technological development it all fields, the gap between now and 1995 is about the same as the gap between 1995 and Attila the Hun. Come to think of it, the best internet site of the first Christian milennium was probably Uncle Attila's Hun House, but I digress. It's kind of hilarious to hear them stand back in absolute awe at a new laptop computer with a 8k of RAM and built-in 28.8 modem! Eeee, doggies, that's the power to harness the universe right there. Well, it must have impressed filmmakers who still owned their Commodore 64's.

This may have seemed technological in 1995. It seems quaint today. As sometimes happens, I'm about to go off on a tangent about the rate of change between 1995 and 2001, and how fast the future changes before us, all of which has nothing to do with this movie.

It seems to me that future forecasts are always wrong, since they always base the future on an exaggerated version of the trends of the present. But the cycle of history shows that things do not move forever in a straight line. When trends become unacceptable to most people, countervailing trends moderate the development, often to a radically different path, and we can't really predict how long it will take for the direction to change. Vico theorized that it was circular, but I think that oversimplifies. We move forward, but not in a straight line, and we often double back temporarily.

The book "1984" assumed that the future would be a darker extension of the Stalin/Hitler phenomenon of absolute state interference in all thought processes. What could be further from the truth? If anything, the world is closer to anarchy than monarchy.

About the only literary future scenario that seems all too close to us now is "A Clockwork Orange", which seemed to be on target in its prediction of a youth culture filled with drugs, music, sex, and stylized violence. But even that could change dramatically. We may yet see a more peaceful world. If you had seen the sleaze and lawlessness of Times Square in the 1980's, you could not have predicted what it would be like today. You would have imagined Blade Runner coming to life by now. You would have predicted further deterioration at a similar rate instead of the response of a countervailing force which turned it in a completely opposite direction, so that the whole area is now like Disney North. An excess of anything seems to max out at some point and cause a counter-reaction.

It seems that very few people, neither literary nor scientific types, can build any kind of model that can predict when existing trends will be modified by countervailing pressures, or simply by chance. Pretend you were living in 1940, and try to predict what 1946 would be like. Who could have known that Hitler was stupid enough to invade Russia so late in the year? Who could have predicted that Japan wanted to force a war with the country that had most of the world's industrial capacity? Who could know that the race to develop atomic weapons and rocketry would end up the way it did? Modeling the future from 1940, I doubt many people had an accurate idea of what 1946 would be like. Now add this to the equation. According to futurists the rate of change is accelerating constantly. In other words, it's probably about a thousand times harder to predict 2006 from 2000 as it was to predict 1946 from 1940.

Let's consider science, and how recent developments have altered the thinking from just five years ago.

One team in Italy, another in Princeton, New Jersey, are convinced that the speed of light is not an absolute. That it may be possible to force a laser beam through controlled environments at hundreds of times the speed of light. Think about the implications for space exploration, and how it might change all our assumptions about the universe.

Just a couple years ago, virtually all scientists would tell you that the universe must be teeming with other technological societies, given the vast number of stars, the likelihood of planets, and the presumed life-imperative. (Which means that when life can exist, it will exist. Nature's imperative.) But we have now scoured an area 40,000 light years in radius without finding any trace of radio waves. Nothing. Now scientists are turning toward the theory that while life is an imperative, technological life may be an accident. Remember it appears to have been an accident on our own planet. They now believe that technological life exists only because of a one in a zillion fluke: the Alvarez Hypothesis. A meteor strikes earth, destroys all the giant reptiles who have held sway for 140 million years, and permits mammal life to flourish in the new world. But take away that fluke meteor, change its path in space by a thousandth of a degree, and there's no technological life on this planet. The dinosaurs made no progress toward technology in 140 million years, and they'd have made no more in the next couple of million.

Imagine what's going to happen in genetics in the next few years. I wish I were my daughter's age. I would own every book on genetics. Remember how the computer age has developed from 1980 until now. Genetics are about at the stage now that computers were at in 1980. Now that they've assembled the human DNA sequence, what is the limit to that knowledge?

Finally, what happens in astronomy as we look out ever farther? Each time we see stars farther away, we are seeing them farther back in time. Where does that end? Do we finally see an end to that? Let's say the universe is "x" years old. What happens when we look at stars whose light is "x+1" years away. If there is no more physical universe, what is there?

The answers to these questions may radically change the future in ways we can't begin to predict. Or the chaos theorists may have their way, and something which now seems completely unpredicable, some chance occurance in global climate, perhaps another rogue meteor, may re-shuffle the deck again. OK, interesting speculation, but enough of my babbling away like Marshall McLuhan. Here's Jolie, looking quite different from today. The frame where she wears warpaint is from the trailer, and I didn't see it in the film. The one of her in the transparent blouse came as a surprise to me, since I didn't remember it from the captures I had seen.


Jolie is topless in a sex scene, looking quite different from today.

The frame where she wears warpaint is from the trailer, and I didn't see it in the film. 

There is also a scene of her in a transparent blouse, which came as a surprise to me.

 Tuna's notes in yellow:

Hackers (1995) was a summer blockbuster in what can be called the hack-sploitation genre. Like most films in the genre, the computer science is done very badly. Ebert doesn't see that as a problem, and awards 3 stars. Berardinelli held that against it, and didn't like the adult villains, so gave 2 stars. Maltin liked the energy, and put it in the watchable 2 1/2 star slot. I like Angelina Jolie's tits, so will give it a C.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • souvenir booklet

Jolie is hacker Acid Burn. When Jonny Lee Miller (Crash Override) moves to New York, he and Jolie start a rivalry, but, at the same time, are erotically drawn to each other. A member of their group breaks into a large mainframe, and unwittingly discovers proof of a major swindle. The super-hacker who has been hired as head of security for the company, Fisher Stevens, and his girlfriend have written a worm to transfer a small percentage of every dollar transaction handled by the computer to a holding area. When the amount is set aside, the worm will transfer the money to a Swiss account, and they will be rich.

Stevens discovers the break-in, writes a virus which supposedly will sink oil supertankers, and then fames the hackers. To defend themselves, they must hack the supercomputer and uncover the evidence. The film is visually impressive, and the teen characters look great and interact with each other well. The adults, however, do not help the film.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Maltin 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.7/10 
  • With their dollars ... it accumulated a meager $8 million in domestic gross.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoopy and Tuna agree that this film is a C.

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