Rebooting Angelina Jolie’s “Hackers”
The U.S. government would have you believe North Korea is behind the hacking of Sony because Kim Jong-Un didn’t want to be a character-assassination victim in the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview. But I’ve come up with my own conspiracy theory: It was all an elaborate smokescreen used by hackers to punish that “minimally talented spoiled brat” (as she was called in the leaked Amy Pascal-Scott Rudin e-mails) Angelina Jolie for 1995’s crime against humanity Hackers.
To further research my hypothesis, I subjected myself to a viewing of Hackers, an act that even Dick Cheney would admit constitutes torture. And this chunk of cinematic cheese has only grown stinkier with age. Directed by Iain “Yer Killin’ Me!” Softley (who also made K-PAX, which contrary to popular belief was a Kevin Spacey-Jeff Bridges alien movie, not a feminine hygiene product), the movie was previously best-known as the impetus for Angie’s short-lived first marriage to co-star Jonny Lee Miller. The future Sherlock Holmes (employing a truly awful American accent) stars as an 18-year-old who had hacked into the U.S. stock exchange, among other targets, as an 11-year-old and had been sentenced to seven years without the use of computer OR A TOUCH-TONE PHONE. (I’m not making this up.)
Once he’s allowed to start using a modem (he has to explain what it is to a security guard, and presumably non-tech-savvy 1995 viewers: “it’s the little box with flashing lights”), he hacks into the computers of a Japanese entertainment company headed by one “Mr. Kawasaki” (“he’ll make me commit hari-kari!”) and pre-empts a Rush Limbaugh-like blowhard with an old episode of The Outer Limits. Going under the nom du net Crash Override, he meets Jolie’s rival hacker, who goes by Acid Burn. Crash and Burn, get it? If you don’t, the script hits you over the head with it twice.
Jolie, sporting short hair that accentuates her Vulcan-like ears, belongs to a group of high-school hackers including future Shaggy Matthew Lillard as a pigtail-braided dude prone to spouting laughable lines like “Orwell’s here now and he’s livin’ large!” They uncover a plot by an oil company’s security chief (Short Circuit‘s Fisher Stevens!) and his PR-head girlfriend (a hilariously miscast Lorraine Bracco) to steal $25 million using a computer worm, cause an ecological disaster and blame it all on hackers!
But he’s not the film’s only villain. A pre-Wire Wendell Pierce— inexplicably dressed like Malcolm X—plays a Secret Service agent out to bust the roller-blading hackers (“I suggest you modify your attitude because you’re floating and I’m about to flush your ass!”). After some weak flirtation between Jolie and future ex-husband Miller—”I hope you don’t screw like you type,” she teases the fleet-fingered cybergeek—the nefarious plot is exposed as Lillard’s Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein appears on a SONY (!) billboard in Times Square and leaks the Bahamian bank account number where the purloined funds were to be deposited.
“Is this the last we’ll see of this kind of corporate espionage?” asks a reporter of Pierce’s character. “I’m afraid not,” he answers. Little did he know way back in 1995, when Hackers‘ credits included such archaic verbiage as “WipeOut Game from Sony Psygnosis for Playstation and Computer PC CDs”, that nearly 20 years later, the Hackers of the World would unite and seek revenge on his pillow-lipped co-star.
Just kidding: Kim Jong-Un has clearly demonstrated his awesome power by forcing a movie studio not to release a Seth Rogen flick. He must feel five feet tall!