A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a little drinking, a fair amount of smoking, and some quite explicit sexual fantasies in this film. The anti-authoritarian culture of computer hacking is glorified, and little distinction is made between harmless pranks and destructive viruses.
What's the story?
Super-hacker Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller), infamous for his creation of a destructive virus at age eleven, has just moved to New York City. A high school senior, Dade wins the respect of a group of teenage hackers and struggles to start a romance with sexy Kate (Angelina Jolie). When a member of the crowd hacks into a corporate computer system, Dade and his friends draw the attention of the FBI and of "Plague," a former hacker turned corporate security officer. Plague launches a virus designed to create oil spills and frame the kids while covering up his own multi-million dollar scam. The teens (with help from hackers everywhere) must dash to stop the virus, unmask Plague's villainy, and keep themselves out of jail.
Is it any good?
This attempt at cyberpunk suspense never gets any traction. Leaden scriptwriting, expressionless acting, and a startling lack of suspense leave HACKERS less than thrilling. The plot trickles along at a snail's pace, and the actors seem to be competing to see who can speak in the slowest monotone. Plague may well be the most whiny supervillain in the history of film; neither he nor a hapless FBI agent (obviously a bad guy since he can't speak computer lingo fluently) provide any real sense of menace.
The romantic subplot is equally flat, with lots of long, supposed-to-be smoldering looks between Dade and Kate to make up for the lack of either chemistry or interesting dialogue. Attempts at coolness only look contrived, and the high-tech edge is considerably blunted by the passage of time. (What, no wireless?) Posturing, silly, and above all, dull.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about computer hacking and the ethics of the online world. Should information be shared freely or controlled? How would you feel if somebody hacked into your computer or if a virus damaged your files? This might be an opportunity to find out what your kid thinks about common activities like downloading music -- is it wrong to shoplift something from a store but okay to download music without permission?
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