Film Reviews:


aka Cybernet

(Iain Softley, US/UK, 1995)

Hackers in one of those slightly cringe-inducing films that attempts to be a film about and for a generation and winds up patronising its intended audience as much as it delivers what it should. Of course, the title refers to a group of computer nerds who illegally break into other computer systems. They frequent a club called Cyberdelia where kids rollerblade (sorry, should that be "in-line skate" now?), play video games, drink, kiss etc. etc. In depicting the actual hacking, Brit director Softley uses lots of post-production video gimmicks in an attempt to visualise what is in reality an incredibly dull-looking process. What the hackers (and the audience) actually see during these sequences is total fantasy. Like most films that try to make computers simple to follow for non-techies, it distorts reality beyond all recognistion so that what you see is virtually a parody of real life.

Inevitably, these crazy kids get into trouble and arouse the interest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also inevitably, all the senior FBI men don't have the first clue about computers leaving the gag door wide open for their better informed juniors. The hacker conversations are unbearable. When the guys check out the sexy young girl's new laptop she says "I wanna triple the RAM" to which all the boys reply in unison: "Whooah!" Another nerdy exchange: "RISC architecture changed everything", "Yeah, risk is good!" and a conversation about computer monitor refresh rates is sad in the extreme. What the film does has going for it however, is its soundtrack. Whilst the film fails miserably as a representation of the wired generation, the artists contributing to the score are much more on target and include The Prodigy, Orbital, Underworld and Leftfield.

There are also some nicely humourous touches, especially in a series of nightmares the lead (Jonny Lee Miller) experiences. The script's best idea is having hackers working for a huge shipping conglomorate who can admier and relate to the hackers trying to break in from the outside. But the majority of the rest of the film suffers from ham-fisted (if visually arresting) direction and the characters are more like charicatures than real people. American anti-magician and occasional actor Penn Julliete and Dave (Eurythmics) Stewart both have fleeting cameos. The 'Hacker Consultants' in the end credits must be embarassed to be associated with this.

Rob Dyer

See also:

Hackers (OST soundtrack review)


A-Z of Film Reviews