"Mr. The Plague, he's around, and one of my friends hollers at him"
June 26, 2015 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Hackers was a financial flop, but its hilariously over-the-top early CGI visuals, oddly prescient view on technology, and glam-cyberpunk aesthetic rendered it a cult classic. To honor its 20th anniversary—at a time dogged by newfound fears about what the future of technology holds—we thought it would be fitting to bring together a group of actual hackers to screen and discuss the film. - Hackers watch "Hackers"
posted by Artw (89 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would be so overjoyed to spot The Plague and yell at him. I would hope he would be on his skateboard.
posted by Artw at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love that movie, seen it a bunch of times. It did that thing where if you take any subculture and portray it in a club with loud music and dancing and the occasional half naked future megastar you can make it look cool. I think Sidehackers (very different than Hackers) is the only time that basic formula didn't work for me. I'm a sucker for it.

Years later when I watched the street racing scenes in Fast and Furious I thought of Hackers. Some of my other friends thought the racing thing was cool and wasted money on putting a loud muffler and neon lights on their shitbox cars. I just thought, all else being equal, I'd still rather be in a spinning telephone booth hacking the planet.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:51 PM on June 26, 2015 [17 favorites]




The thing about this movie is, about half of the hacking is ludicrous (FLYING THROUGH COMPUTER WORLD) and half is quite realistic (there's a scene where they dig through a big assembly printout trying to figure out what the evil code is doing).

If only this had become the style for stylish hackers, as opposed to plaid vintage everything.

There's still a tight-knit subculture of rollerbladers in Paris, apparently, but I think that's it.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:52 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am 99% sure the writers skim read The Hacker Crackdown then wrote down what they remembered of it during a coke binge.
posted by Artw at 6:54 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Unfortunately, football goalkeeper kits only got more boring since then.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:03 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's still a tight-knit subculture of rollerbladers in Paris, apparently, but I think that's it.

This is why shit went all sideways after the dotcom boom. You can't possibly hack the planet if you aren't wearing rollerblades.
posted by loquacious at 7:03 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Funnily enough the only places I've seen anyone rollerblade for a while are the tunnels beneath various university engineering buildings.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:04 PM on June 26, 2015


Now I want a Hackers/The Lurking Horror crossover.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm going to justify this distraction from working on the Shadowrun game I'm supposed to be running tomorrow morning because it's so perfectly of the right vibe. Soundtrack time!
posted by cobaltnine at 7:11 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]




My friends were heartbroken when they learned that the scene about hacking the TV network wasn't realistic in 1995 (well, as far as the technical aspects - the social engineering was not terrible). We knew the "computer interface" was not realistic, but we were so hoping that the program selection system was still like that.

I've seen the movie a few times, but I love the soundtrack (YT playlist; Discogs). If you were pissed off the first soundtrack didn't begin to cover the full score, here's a YT playlist with 49 tracks. So good, and so 1990s.

And now YouTubers are warning me there is hidden Illuminati imagery in the movie.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 PM on June 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh man this movie came out when my friends and I were just becoming Computer Nerds and there was this hilarious cognitive dissonance in all of us how this movie was not portraying ~~~hacking~~~ in any realistic manner (except for the tiny room full of smoking Russian men) and this movie being fun as hell and also the word "phreak" being used somewhere outside of our own conversations about redbox.txt and so on.
posted by griphus at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the Article: Can we touch on how amazing the soundtrack is?

There were actually 3 soundtracks. That's how amazing it was. Ok, some of it was a bit of music industry hocus pocus because of the magic phrase "Music from and inspired by the movie", so by the time you got to the third volume, there was like maybe only one or two tracks that actually appeared in the movie that had somehow been missed on the first two releases, but the filler tracks they threw in still made for a damn solid compilation.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Today I learned that sucessful turtle turned actor, Fisher Stevens, has an Oscar on his shelf. Combine that with Angelina Jolie's and Martin Walsh's and this film is looking retroactively competent.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Young Angelina Jolie with that haircut makes me feel funny. Did back then, still does. But besides that, you could already tell who was the future superstar in that particular group, I think. Much like when you see Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


The RISC thing is kind of amusingly less-wrong than it would have been if they were talking about the P5, considering that the P6 was the first to translate IA-32 into RISC-ish microops.
posted by invitapriore at 7:33 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I somehow doubt that's what the scriptwriters were going for there, though.
posted by invitapriore at 7:34 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you get tired of the Hackers soundtrack there's always the soundtrack to in-movie-game-turned-actual-game WipEout.
posted by Artw at 7:39 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, the soundtrack brings back memories. This is pretty great. Not on iTunes or anything, though, it seems?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:44 PM on June 26, 2015


If they wanted to know what real hackers thought of this movie they should've asked these guys.
posted by scalefree at 7:49 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have pretty much everything on the albums/singles they were sourced from, because I'm like that.
posted by Artw at 7:49 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Agree that Hackers is an eminently watchable film. And the soundtrack alone puts it heavy in my rotation of background movies to play while I'm cleaning or doing other household chores that don't require my full attention and can be immediately dropped because I sat down and got sucked into all of its wonderful costume/set designs again. Also fully willing to admit that I did, in a very half-assed way, cosplay the kimono-style dress Acid Burn wears on the date at the end, but mostly just in the comfort of my own home because I didn't have the uh, ovum to wear it in public at that age.

And there is a live version of the Orbital track from the beginning of the movie, Halcyon And On And On, on itunes. From their album In Sides. One of my favorites from the movie, and that time in general.
posted by pandalicious at 8:01 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well if it isn't Leopard Boy and the Decepticons.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:23 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I too love the heck out of this movie. It's goofy and dumb in all the right ways. And it has a really weird mix of spot on portrayals of hacking and ridiculous Hollywoodisms. Joey initially got in because one of the board members used a shitty password. The social engineering thing is another common way to get access. Those are both 100% plausible attack vectors. But then there's the weird Mythical Man-Month part of it where they have to work together, and all the crazy-town graphics and misused technobabble makes you wonder if they'd ever seen a computer before.

Maybe I should watch this movie right now!
posted by aubilenon at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


The phrase "hacking the Gibson" gets used regularly in my workplace. Catching the reference seems to be one of the best indicators of who is going to be a good person to work with.
posted by jferg at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


The phrase "hacking the Gibson" gets used regularly in my workplace

Is your workplace a nightclub-skatepark-arcade?
posted by vogon_poet at 8:46 PM on June 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


Is your workplace a nightclub-skatepark-arcade?

Unfortunately, no, but we InfoSec guys try to turn everywhere we work into one.
posted by jferg at 9:07 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is your workplace a nightclub-skatepark-arcade?

Goddamn start-ups.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on June 26, 2015 [37 favorites]


Still trips me out on every re-watching of this that Marc Anthony plays one of agents/secret hacker.
posted by pandalicious at 9:18 PM on June 26, 2015


I can't believe Ruby Rose was in that movie!
posted by hal_c_on at 9:20 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is your workplace a nightclub-skatepark-arcade?

Goddamn start-ups.


Excuse me, that's an awesome start-up
posted by clockzero at 9:47 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have always said this is a very stupid movie made by and for very clever people.
posted by webmutant at 10:33 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


If Hackers had only one redeeming quality (it has many, but let's pretend), it would still beat the everliving fuck out of The Net. That, my friends, was a truly terrible film.

Hackers was super goofy, but it a fun way. The Net was just bad. If nothing else, the soundtrack was spot on for the time. The graphics were silly, yes, but otherwise the whole thing at least made sense. Things in the film were doable, even if not accurately portrayed.

Too bad it didn't accurately portray quite how shitty dealing with the law is...
posted by wierdo at 11:02 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


What surprises me most is that after all these years, is that no one seems to have tried to make, even completely as a joke, a working GUI that looks and behaves like the one in Hackers for navigating a file system (as vogon_poet accurately calls "FLYING THROUGH COMPUTER WORLD").

It would actually be kind of fun, for at least a while, especially with the current and upcoming VR systems. Even on a regular screen it would still be cool, and gives you a reason to have the company buy you a nice joystick and head tracking system.

Lay it out like a city, nested folders create higher 'buildings' and are organized by neighborhoods - Systemville is over there, right next to Upper Program and Lower Program (x64 and x32 respectively), User folders are residential neighborhoods, each with their own Library buildings, Tempville is the rough part of town, filled with transient shantytowns filled with transients and resident files of questionable virtue, etc.

It would be fun to use every now and then, and may even make searching, identifying, tracking, and removing active or problematic files, or to help root out all the leftover crap from an uninstall of a poorly written program.

To be completely honest, though, there's really only one good use for something like that - impressing your not-so-tech-savvy bosses for those times when they start thinking that they might not really need an in-house IT department, because they conflate 'not understanding what you actually do' with 'not really doing anything because stuff really doesn't break that often'.

It is at that moment that you sit them down, tell them "Here, put these goggles on" and you give them a CRAZY TECHNO FUTURE INFORMATION AUTOBAHN THRILL RIDE" while you just clear out a print job that's jamming up the print server that handles the color copier, all while respectfully and tactfully not bringing up the fact that the files that are causing the problem and bringing the graphic designers to a halt are a mix of pictures of boats they're interested in buying, a 80-page lease for their condo, page 4 of a Google search result for 'Google biggest legal bass boat motor size', and a dozen thumbnail images of shirts with funny sayings on then, each one blown up and stretched to full-page size.

After that, then you bring up the fact that you're overdue for a performance review and a raise.

Seriously, someone needs to do this. They would have the thanks from multitudes of Sysadmins and IT folk everywhere who ridiculously have to justify and explain over and over again what it is they do every few months.
posted by chambers at 12:13 AM on June 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


no one seems to have tried to make, even completely as a joke, a working GUI that looks and behaves like the one in Hackers for navigating a file system

IT'S A UNIX SYSTEM! I KNOW THIS!
posted by radwolf76 at 12:23 AM on June 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


IT'S A UNIX SYSTEM! I KNOW THIS!

It's a start, sure, but it's a long way from The Butter Zone.
posted by chambers at 12:47 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm just here to tell y'all that I recently met Captain Crunch, and danced with Rop Gonggrijp the next day.
That's all.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:56 AM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


oh sweet mother of christ

that's Sherlock Holmes
posted by mikurski at 2:08 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yep, and the dude from trainspotting. Also Angelina Jolie's ex-husband.
posted by Justinian at 2:44 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


When The Prodigy still made decent music,

Not such a burn as an Acid Burn
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:49 AM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Been while since I listened to it but I remember the dvd commentary to be pretty interesting (and like the dvd must be just buttons to buy now)... like they threw the world hacker scenes together with no budget (the Japanese one was just 'get anything oriental looking you can find and stick it in this corner of the studio)

Oh and you all know it's the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart as the Brit hacker, right?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:58 AM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


The other day I messaged the head of our dev team at work about the spotty wifi in our part of the building, saying 'the workload is enough for, like, ten users' and he caught the reference. He responded he'd check nobody was 'hacking the Gibson'. Then he rebooted the wifi.

Fucking love this film. Between this, Microserfs and The Hacker Crackdown, this is basically why I've always done techie-ish jobs, even as a dilettante pseudo-nerd with an English Literature degree and a passing knowledge of HTML circa 2002.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:05 AM on June 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I love this movie in all it's terrible greatness. I have a stack of hacker fiction and cyberculture books from/about the 90s because I enjoy reveling in the nostalgia of the time. I didn't actually hate The Net just because it was a woman doing computery things and fighting off the cheesy bad guy on her own and it didn't end in a romance. It's nowhere near as entertaining as Hackers IMO but it has its own merits (and I enjoy seeing (SPOILER!1!) Dennis Miller bite it).

If anyone really likes Orbital's "Halcyon" (the song that plays on Dade's headphones during the flying montage), the female vocal is a sample from Opus III's "It's a Fine Day" (which itself is a cover). Kirsty Hawkshaw does the vocals for "It's a Fine Day" and she plays the housewife in Orbital's video for "Halcyon".)
posted by i feel possessed at 4:45 AM on June 27, 2015 [13 favorites]


IIRC The computer city isn't even s GUI, it's just sort of there... And much like the HUD in Escape from New York it's actually a practical effect faked up as CG, the data towers actually being perspex.
posted by Artw at 5:24 AM on June 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Man that was a good soundtrack: Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld, The Prodigy, the list just goes on.
posted by pharm at 5:25 AM on June 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I grew up with this film and I too agree that young Angelina Jolie definitely gave me "feelings" and still does.

We also shouldn't forget about 2001's Swordfish starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Barry.
posted by Fizz at 5:30 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


We really should.
posted by Etrigan at 5:32 AM on June 27, 2015 [20 favorites]


I will say this: Jonny Lee Miller is far more believable as a hacker than Hugh Jackman. And even though Halle Barry is a beautiful woman, I wouldn't trade her for Angelina Jolie.
posted by Fizz at 5:37 AM on June 27, 2015


Lay it out like a city, nested folders create higher 'buildings' and are organized by neighborhoods - Systemville is over there, right next to Upper Program and Lower Program (x64 and x32 respectively), User folders are residential neighborhoods, each with their own Library buildings, Tempville is the rough part of town, filled with transient shantytowns filled with transients and resident files of questionable virtue, etc.

You need to go read Tad Williams' Otherland series.
posted by Fizz at 5:49 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


What surprises me most is that after all these years, is that no one seems to have tried to make, even completely as a joke, a working GUI that looks and behaves like the one in Hackers for navigating a file system

An episode of Community this season totally did all this -- a VR filesystem which, although technically astounding, was impractically difficult to use.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:07 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


For anyone interested, Shout! Factory is releasing a 20th Anniversary blu-ray in August.

See also: IMDb's trivia and goofs for Hackers, or peruse the Hackers page at TV Tropes.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:11 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


What surprises me most is that after all these years, is that no one seems to have tried to make, even completely as a joke, a working GUI that looks and behaves like the one in Hackers for navigating a file system (as vogon_poet accurately calls "FLYING THROUGH COMPUTER WORLD").

It's been done, they basically suck.

There's FSN, which was the SGI/IRIX visual file explorer used in Jurassic Park. FSV is a Linux clone.

Innolab 3D File Manager is a little more 'cyber' looking, but closer yet is Cubix and the most Hackers-like (and game-like) is probably Tactile3d.

Out of all of these FSV is the most practically usable. Turns out that representing your file-system as a 3D environment and forcing yourself to fly through it and interact with files using spatial metaphors is really slow and cumbersome.

I mean: sudo find / -name ".garbage" would have been a whole lot quicker.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:34 AM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best part of the article is the admission that Sneakers is the better movie. WHICH IT IS.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:40 AM on June 27, 2015 [12 favorites]




Lay it out like a city, nested folders create higher 'buildings' and are organized by neighborhoods - Systemville is over there, right next to Upper Program and Lower Program (x64 and x32 respectively), User folders are residential neighborhoods, each with their own Library buildings, Tempville is the rough part of town, filled with transient shantytowns filled with transients and resident files of questionable virtue, etc.

"Your name is Renny and you live in a big house at the edge of the Matrix."
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:44 AM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sneakers was not only a much better movie, but was incredibly fucking prescient.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:46 AM on June 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sneakers was not only a much better movie, but was incredibly fucking prescient.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:46 AM on June 27 [+] [!]

Imdb also has this fun tidbit of knowledge:
The computer in the room off of Cosmo's office in the PlayTronics building (the one that looks like a circular bench) is actually a Cray Y-MP, a multi-million dollar supercomputer that was one of the worlds fastest computers at the time the film was made.
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man that was a good soundtrack: Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld, The Prodigy, the list just goes on.

In an odd moment of synchronicity yesterday I had my Squeeze catalog on shuffle and their track from the Hackers soundtrack came up. I was thinking "oh yeah, remember Hackers?". Then this post. Freaky.

Still not sure how that song ("Heaven Knows") got into the movie except IRS was probably trying to plug the new album. The video was one of those typical 1990s movieclip-band-movieclip-band things that has no cohesion. The album ("Ridiculous") was the last listenable one that Squeeze ever released.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


What surprises me most is that after all these years, is that no one seems to have tried to make, even completely as a joke, a working GUI that looks and behaves like the one in Hackers for navigating a file system (as vogon_poet accurately calls "FLYING THROUGH COMPUTER WORLD").

A few years later this went around the net: Doom as a Tool for System Adminstration (ca. 1999).

You were kind of walking through Computer World taking care of things although it was more of a process thing and not a file thing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always loved Hackers, but my favourite '90s movie TEH l33t HAXXXORS moment is from Fair Game; IIRC (and it's been a while) the villain is in his high-tech lair (which is on an ocean-going freighter) and a bunch of alarms and red lights start going off. He looks up in anger, clenches his fist and shouts "HACKERS!!!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:11 AM on June 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Guess the pool on the roof must have sprung a leak.

Hurr hurr hurr.

Also: manslaughter and rollerblades. smh
posted by ostranenie at 8:43 AM on June 27, 2015


Innolab 3D File Manager is a little more 'cyber' looking, but closer yet is Cubix and the most Hackers-like (and game-like) is probably Tactile3d.

Out of all of these FSV is the most practically usable. Turns out that representing your file-system as a 3D environment and forcing yourself to fly through it and interact with files using spatial metaphors is really slow and cumbersome.


These are all very cool, and I'm having a grand old time with Tactile3d. Slow? Cumbersome? Sure, but it looks like a great thing to have around for those moments when you are just sick of the regular old way of doing things and need a change of pace for a few minutes. With a bit more development and support for various gaming control interfaces like TrackIR, joysticks (an Xbox controller with its keyboard attachment would be very nice), and other such devices, working inside of it could be a lot less cumbersome and slow overall.

*Also, I'd like to make a correction on my earlier post. 15 years in IT and made a noob-level mistake of writing "x64 and x32" when I meant "x64 and x86." I could say it was late and I'm getting old, but really my tendency to miss stuff like that when I'm thinking fast is why I wisely chose never became a full-time programmer.
posted by chambers at 10:30 AM on June 27, 2015


People who feel that the actual hacking parts of the movie are inaccurate, I feel your pain. I got into computers partially thanks to William Gibson, who thought his Apple computer would have a big pulsating blue crystal inside.


snuffleupagus: "Your name is Renny and you live in a big house at the edge of the Matrix."

Ooh, I've been meaning to re-read that story from Virtual Realities for years!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2015


It's no War Games, that's all I'm saying.
posted by fungible at 12:32 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sneakers was not only a much better movie, but was incredibly fucking prescient.

NO MORE SECRETS.

I'm going to have to give it a rewatch one of these days.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have Sneakers in my Letterboxd watchlist. Would it be fun to have over at FanFare?
posted by lmfsilva at 1:57 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man that was a good soundtrack: Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld, The Prodigy, the list just goes on.

hehe
Which Orbital song was it?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:12 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sure I'll rewatch Sneakers *some day*, and it's undoubtedly the better film in most recognizable ways, but really it's Hackers that wins the "if I randomly flick onto this movie changing channels I will stop and watch it to the end" test every time.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just did the equivalent of running headlong into a glass door. For others: Letterboxd is for, like, rating movies, not streaming them. Sneakers isn't on Netflix or anything.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:15 PM on June 27, 2015


advil knows how many times I've seen this movie. (Hi advil, if you're reading)
posted by thefool at 2:16 PM on June 27, 2015


Check that. You can get Sneakers on Google Play (rental) or buy it on Apple or Vudu.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2015


NO MORE SECRETS.

TOO MANY SECRETS. (From 'SETEC ASTRONOMY.') Bishop says "no more secrets" during the crew's impromptu test of Janek's box. Later, Cosmo says it too.

Would it be fun to have over at FanFare?

I vote yes!

the "if I randomly flick onto this movie changing channels I will stop and watch it to the end"-test

Sneakers beats Hackers on this for me, but Hackers is still guilty/nostalgic fun.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2015


Sneakers on FanFare.
posted by Etrigan at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Man that was a good soundtrack: Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld, The Prodigy, the list just goes on.

and on...
posted by hal_c_on at 2:20 PM on June 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ooh, I've been meaning to re-read that story from Virtual Realities for years!

The fact that it's from the Shadowrun setting, which is a blend of classical cyberpunk with tabletop fantasy RPG tropes may be off-putting to some, but that's just meatspace background for that particular story and can be safely glossed over. The real heart of the story happens in VR, and what a heart it is.

Somewhere in old issues of Entertainment Weekly, prior to the start of filming on The Matrix, was a small microblurb of an article that actually said that Warner Brothers' had actually adapted The Matrix's script from this short story in FASA's RPG book. However, that's the only time I ever heard of such. I don't know if there was a deal with some very strongly worded NDAs that prevented more than that scrap of info on it ever leaking out, or if the journalist behind that blurb somehow mistook some other part of Hollywood legal wrangling, such as trademark clearing, for getting permission to adapt the story.

I want to believe though. Mentor figure with a mythical, underworldly name engages with the protagonist, revealing to him that, one, the world he's lived in all his life is a computer simulation, two, the protagonist will be capable of things that no one else operating in that simulated world should be able to do, and three, that the mentor had been looking for someone like the protagonist for a very long time. The chief difference is, that was the bulk of the short story, and the mere starting point for the movie. Still, royalty payment suits have been won for less than that. I only wish I had saved that issue of Entertainment Weekly.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


but really it's Hackers that wins the "if I randomly flick onto this movie changing channels I will stop and watch it to the end" test every time

This is true but most of that boils down to Angelina Jolie.
posted by Justinian at 7:37 PM on June 27, 2015


I think on some level I am always comparing every club I've been in to Cyberdelia and being disappointed - apparently I'm not the only one
posted by en forme de poire at 8:08 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is true but most of that boils down to Angelina Jolie.

I think the leads are both equally attractive, as well as Laurence Mason (Lord Nikon), but that's not why I watch it. I really like the group chemistry, the Cyberdelia scenes, the group hacking scenes, the OTV battle, when Dade is pulling the floppy out of his pocket like it's High Noon, and pretty much the whole last half hour after they put their plan into action. If I had any tv channels to flip through and this was on, that's why I'd stop channel surfing and watch to the end.
posted by i feel possessed at 9:16 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, how can you not love Hackers. True story, I was about the age of the leads when it came out, and watching it recently with Boy, he turned during the scene where the Mom is all "mister, I don't care if I face certain death." When the Fed is trying to intimidate her, and boy says, " that'd be you.", which ... Probably true, but damn, in my head I still see myself as Angelina, but no...I'm the mom now. Heh.
posted by dejah420 at 9:53 PM on June 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the leads are both equally attractive

Yeah, truth, I definitely crushed on/wanted to be Jonny Lee Miller as a young proto-homo. But I also like i feel possessed's explanation re: the other things that make this movie so watchable, and as other people have mentioned I'd add the soundtrack to that list as well.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:37 AM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still want a hinged knuckle ring like Angelina wore, because of this film.
posted by Windigo at 4:25 AM on June 28, 2015




I've never seen this movie. But I do remember the commercial! It played (several times daily for a few weeks in 1995) on the quaint, crappy little TV set in the apartment I shared with my girlfriend at the time, and made no impression on me whatsoever until the day I saw Angelina Jolie look at the camera out of the corner of my eye. My exact words: "Holy fuck." My girlfriend missed it and had no idea what was talking about until the next day, when she saw the same shot and said, "Jesus Christ." I'm not sure why we didn't see the movie, but we both paid a lot of attention to the commercial afterward.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:34 AM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another demonstration of the onward march of technology:

From the IMDB trivia page:
The game being played in the arcade is a high-quality prototype of the Playstation game "Wipeout" by Psygnosis. It is done on a high-end SGI server and allowed the development team to try out tracks and gameplay, before porting it to the Playstation. As a result, there are features and graphics in the movie that do not exist in the actual game, including the "high score smashing" sequence.
Now you can see the Wipeout tracks in a browser.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just watched this last night. Throughout the film my wife kept commenting that "It must be hard to come up with plausible hacking things which just end up sounding ridiculous" usually followed by me telling her that no, Phreaking, Switch Hooking, The Hacker Manifesto, Social Engineering Hacks, etc. were in fact all real things which really happened.

I was actually surprised by how valid a lot of this film is. I had assumed / semi-remembered that it was full of made up hollywood nonsense (and ok, it kinda is near the end) but for a hollywood hacker film it's pretty legit.
I'm going to watch Sneakers and then Swordfish next and see how they compare.
(Possibly a good excuse for a fanfare club)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:03 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not on iTunes or anything, though, it seems?

It's in that place where I put that thing that time.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:33 AM on June 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


My friends were heartbroken when they learned that the scene about hacking the TV network wasn't realistic in 1995 (well, as far as the technical aspects)

The robotic VT library robot did exist - take a gander at the Odetics TCS2000 Cart Machine in action. Odetics won an award for the design in 1990, the one in the film could very well be a newer version of their equipment, and is probably why the station was called OTV.

Even the 'hacker duel' in that is not entirely impossible. Trying to interrupt the machine in mid-action would have been extremely difficult if not impossible, and would have probably ended up breaking the thing if one was even able to do it. If one could try to do this in a realistic way, it would have been a lot slower paced - one person puts the tape in, the next command puts the tape out, but it would be most likely have to be done as a series of separate actions rather than interrupting a process midway through. The robot arms grabbing the tape from each other is taking it a bit to far, though, but that bit was for me certainly more entertaining than every episode of Robot Wars ever made put together.

I often think of this scene when I am moving tapes inside my little 24-bay robotic LTO tape backup library units at work. However, on my RTL units, the actual process of the robotic carriage moving tapes around is a very slow, measured process, taking 45 seconds just to move a tape from its slot in the library and into the drive, not to mention the extra minute it takes for the drive to identify the tape itself. I'd wager that even with the TCS2000, the robot would easily get confused as to where it actually was if given a series of countermanding orders in quick succession, and the whole unit would need to be reset and perhaps even repositioned by hand back to its start point.
posted by chambers at 10:26 AM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love, love, love this movie. Both for the good hacking bits (especially the hook-latch cycling) and for the over the top hollywood "hacking". I first watched it when I was working on a terminal connected to a room filling IBM mainframe with both a huge robotic tape silo (20' across maybe) and a manual tape room (IE: people would have to find your tape on thousands of shelf feet of tape and then manually mount them on tape drives) and it made my job seem at least a little cool. Even though my 3270 terminal was all monochrome and pure text.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 PM on June 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


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