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This light-hearted thriller is about a rag-tag, unconventional group of security experts, who are pressed into service by supposedly C.I.A. agents to steal a top secret computer chip that can decode any computer, putting themselves in a dangerous, deadly game of intrique.
Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson.
A group of security experts, led by Martin Bishop, are pressed by supposedly C.I.A. agents to steal a top secret computer chip that can decode any computer, putting themselves in a dangerous, deadly game of intrique, and cat and mouse with an assortment of people in organized crime with evil plans and nasty attitudes.
As radical young college students, Martin Brice and his buddy, Cosmo, in 1969 were expert computer hackers, who got into establishment systems, causing mischief and mayhem. The opening scenes show the two hacking into Richard Nixon's bank account, The Republican Party accounts and the Federal Reserve, to donate money from them to the needy. (One has to overlook the fact that the computer technology in 1969 that would be needed to do so wasn't available to most people.)
When Martin went out to get some pizza, the police moved in on young Cosmo, but Martin got away. Martin had been hiding from the police for years ever since. He changed his last name to Martin Bishop, and used his skills to a more positive purpose. He gathered a bunch of unique people together, all a little unique with a special skill, to be in the business of testing security systems on various banks and other companies. One day, Martin Bishop's past discrepancies with the law catch up with him and his group when supposedly 2 C.I.A. drop into his office for a chat. After refusing to take the job of stealing a black box with the computer chip, the "agents" threaten to take Martin in on old warrants.
So Bishop and his motley crew get to work on their most daring and dangerous job that they have ever attempted. The deeper they get into this project, the more complicated things become as people of importance wind up murdered, and people aren't who they claim to be. Who is behind the plot to get this top secret device? Not who they were told, as they discover. How they investigate and figure out what is the truth is fascinating, as they each use their unique technical and personal skills to unravel the clues they find.
This captivating screenplay was the brianchild of Phil Alden Robinson, who also directed it and Lawrence Lasker. Robinson also wrote the screenplays for "All of Me," and "Field of Dreams." Not only is this suspenseful, fun screenplay exciting, full of plot twists, daring plans and near misses, with humor interweaved throughout the story, it also has entertaining, one of a kind characters that are charming, likable, and each uniquely gifted in a specific specialty.
The terrific cast assembled did a great job in this ensemble group effort, and bring the spirit of the screenplay to life.
The charming Robert Redford is convincing as the crafty Martin Bishop, who truly enjoys his work. When embroiled in this dangerous assignment, he wisely depends on his team's various skills, as this challenging case will test them all. Inbetween the action, Redford naturally quips comical one-liners with others, keeping the fun and humor of the intent of the screenplay.
Sidney Poitier is terrific as Donald Crease, an ex-government agent, who's special training comes in handy. After initially stealing the black box, Crease and Poitier meet at the rendez-vous point to give the box to the two "agents." Cease saves Bishop from certain death because of his special training, realizing that these guys were not agents, and that they had walked into a situation where they were about to be killed to silence them.
Mary McDonnell is convincing as Liz, Bishop's University professor ex-girlfriend who agrees to help them in their mission.
My favorite sequence of scenes takes place as they plan and break into the bad guys high-security building, Playtronics, to steal the black box back to foil the evil plans. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Things go astray, and the team must think on their feet, deal with the main bad guy (guess who?), and work together in new and unexpected ways to accomplish their goal.
In case you haven't guessed, the main bad guy that they have to deal with is Cosmos (Ben Kingsly), who Bishop thought had died in prison years ago, much to Bishop's shame. Ben Kingsly, as Cosmos, makes this character three demensional, his acting abilility shining through. Though twisted and hardened by his convict experience and his radicalism, Cosmos is unsure of himself, and allows his deep love of Bishop cloud his thinking a bit.
A favorite scene is when the blind member of Bishop's team, Erwin 'Whistler' Emory (David Strathairn) must somehow drive the get-away van toward the building with only verbal directions given by a team member on the roof, without hitting anything.
Directed and screenplay written by Phil Alden Robinson. Lawrence Lasker & Walter F. Parkes also helped to write the screenplay.
Quote: "Complex but lighthearted thriller about computers and cryptography, government and espionage, secrets and deception and betrayal."
If you enjoyed SNEAKERS you may like OCEAN'S ELEVEN, CONSPIRACY THEORY, ENEMY OF THE STATE,, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, EYE OF THE NEEDLE, THE SAINT, REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER, HOPSCOTCH, and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER.