Who won an Academy Award last night for producing The Cove, which in turn, gives me an excuse to defend Hackers, the role (other than Early Edition) with which I most associate him, from Alex Remington’s lambasting it, which I’ve been meaning to do for days. I’m definitely not going to deny that it’s a patently ridiculous movie. I mean, come on:
But despite the silliness of the cultural depiction of hacking, the movie has a number of virtues. First, the cast. I mean, my goodness people. Stevens is a dorky, villainous hacker. Dr. Melfi is his semi-dumb girlfriend. Bunk Moreland is a hardass, humorless Secret Service agent. J. Lo’s husband is one of his coworkers. Lara Croft is a teenaged computer vixen. Jesse Bradford is an adorable wannabe badass hacker. Felicity Huffman is slumming it as a district attorney! It’s this repository of things that were supposed to be huge in the 1990′s, and blew up in the aughts. It’s also responsible for my irrational fondness for Jonny Lee Miller, which I will not attempt to defend except to say that he makes me happy, and sometimes that’s enough.
And while Hackers was obviously an inaccurate portrait of hacking, combined with special effects that have aged extraordinarily poorly. But in one respect, I think it was extremely accurate. As a portrait of bored, smart, angry kids, Hackers rang extremely true to me when my friend Tony showed it to me as part of his effort to instruct me in the ways of action movies. I didn’t get myself into trouble with computers, but I sure had “Play with the best, die like the rest,” the movie’s hacker credo, taped to the back of the accordion files I used to store evidence in as a high school debater. It gave voice to a lot of the rage and competitiveness I felt back then, and I still appreciate that.