You know that movie where Brendan Frasier’s lived in a nuclear bunker his whole life, only to emerge in the ’90s and have to do 30 years of catching up?
So yeah, that was kind of my childhood. We barely watched any TV or went to movies and I basically lived in culture that was from a half-century before I was born. And so as a result (and as an adult), I’ve been catching up on all the movies and shows and songs and experiences from the ’80s through today.
This is the first of a series of posts in which I explore a thing that, curiously enough, I never got to experience along with the rest of the culture. And I’m starting weird: with the 1995 movie Hackers starring Angelia Jolie and a bunch of mortifying techno babble. If you’ve seen the movie: my condolences. If not, all you need to know is … well, to be honest, there’s virtually nothing you need to know about the movie.
Here’s my play-by-play:
1:00 – Of course it starts in Seattle. Hollywood knew something interesting was happening in Seattle in 1995, but I don’t think they ever actually managed to figure out what.
3:00 – Movie opens with a little kid who is a master hacker getting caught and being told he can’t use a computer for seven more years. This obviously takes its toll, because we then flash forward seven years and he’s a teenager wearing what appears to be a crushed velvet turtleneck. He may be irreparably damaged.
4:40 – The title for the film is displayed in a font that looks like an offset printing press, demonstrating that perhaps the team making this movie does not understand what computers do.
7:00 – He’s hacking into a TV station’s tape control machine, but WHOOPS there’s another hacker already in the system. I guess there were just like a couple of hackers lucking around every local TV station in 1995?
8:30 – The other hacker has defeated him. His response is to say “Shit on me,” which I guess was a saying in the ’90s. Someone says it in The Crow, even though scat is a GROSS way to react to anything.
9:05 – This “teenager” has one of the hairiest chests I’ve ever seen, and it’s a better actor than he is.
10:50 – This entire movie is lit like they only just bought one really powerful desk lamp.
11:20 – Angelina Jolie just appeared. It’s so bizarre to see one actual actor in this already-awful movie. She so clearly does not fit in, like Forrest Gump digitally added to old grainy footage.
13:30 – “Surf the Edge” says a poster hanging on the wall. Okay, I will. Radical.
15:00 – Hero teen has been invited to a hacker party. He arrives on rollerblades. Inside there is a giant rollerblade rack, and also Angelina Jolie playing a video game on a huge monitor. What’s nuts to me is that this is mmmmmmaybe a thing that existed in San Francisco for rich pre-tech-bubble weirdos at this time. But who the fuck is throwing this party for teenagers?
18:30 – There is a Venezuelan (?) queer (?) kid wearing a t-shirt with a cat and a rose on it. Yet another actor upstaged by his chest.
21:30 – Matt Lillard is in this movie and he’s committing to what I think is a fetish-stoner character note?
24:00 – The three most common passwords are “love” “secret” and “sex,” says the queer Venezuelan. “You want to be elite? You gotta do a righteous hack.” I am completely certain that no human has ever said these words.
27:00 – I’m delighted to see that mouth magician Penn Jillette was able to get a paycheck out of this film.
28:50 – The operating system at this company is apparently a system of glowing towers? There are also actual glowing towers surrounding a bunch of people sitting at a keyboard, with lights flashing at everyone. Can you even imagine working in this environment? “Ughhhhhh I’d really like to get this report finished but there’s a strobe-light blinking at me.” (Seizure)
32:00 – There’s apparently a TV show for hackers. It’s called “Hack the Planet” and it’s hosted by two sexually ambiguous Asian men who might be brothers or boyfriends?
43:00 – “Try to stay out of trouble,” says bad guy. “Blow me,” says hero guy. “Thank you,” says bad guy. This movie feels like all the shots were edited together in the wrong order by someone who doesn’t speak English.
44:20 – There are too many vests in this movie. I’m vested out. Enough vests for the rest of my life. That is the level of vest I’m being subjected to. Please send help.
45:30 – Matt Lillard is checking out a woman’s butt. “Look at that pooper, man,” he says. I am a gay man and as such, I’ve heard every sexy euphemism for butts that has ever been used. I rate this one as “never out of never.”
47:50 – The queer Venezuelan likes Angelina’s computer. “You’re in the butter zone now, baby,” he says. This movie is full of sayings that are not sayings but should be. Please use that line to complement someone and then tell me how they respond.
50:50 – Oh God. I just noticed that they had to hire hand-doubles to do the typing in close-ups, because none of the actors can actually type.
51:50 – UGHHHHHH… the hero guy just told Angelina Jolie that she has to smile more. Fuck, what a douchebag.
54:40 – The heroes have gone to the top of the Empire State building to do some hacking on a laptop pointing at skyscrapers. One of them brought a toothbrush. Once again I really do not think these characters understand how computers compute.
57:20 – The hero character’s started wearing something new: giant fat man t-shirts that are cut halfway between his nipple and belly button. Like all of the dialogue, this film is full of clothing that nobody has ever worn but should.
1:02:30 – Now I’m annoyed because I can see the good movie hiding in this bad movie: Angelina Jolie just met the hero’s mother, and they hate each other because they are contradictory depictions of feminism. If this was a movie about underestimated women who achieve great things in different ways, it could be phenomenal. But it’s not. It’s a garbage movie. Oh well.
1:06:10 – The mom got drunk on a bottle of wine and fell asleep next to a wood carving of a chicken and her son is looking at her lovingly while wearing his belly shirt.
1:10:50 – The bad guy’s plot has been unmasked! He’s doing the Office Space “salami slicing” scheme of making big bucks by stealing small amounts from larger transactions. A lot of the elements of this film are basically the screenwriter going “Oh this? I just borrowed it from a better movie.”
1:14:50 – Closeup on the good guy typing what’s supposed to be a UNIX command: “kwermit”
1:17:20 – A background extra has been yawning for this entire scene.
1:22:00 – Heroes have gone to some expert hackers for tips. “Get on the internet,” they advise. Okay, thanks!
1:24:30 – Angelina: “Use your best viruses to buy us some time.” Nothing but the best viruses for the future Ms. Billy Bob Thornton!
1:30:10 – Computer viruses are apparently undulating fractals made of math formulas and tinkerbell lights.
1:32:30 – The computer virus literally just said the words “Help me” before it was deleted.
1:34:50 – It takes a special kind of Director of Photography (DP) to find a way to light Angelina Jolie so she looks haggard.
1:38:50 – Hero and Angelina are having a sexy conversation in a pool, or at least they would if it wasn’t clearly FREEZING because the actors are panting in misery.
1:40:20 – Hero’s reward for hacking the planet: underwater sex with Angelina Jolie. That’s at least an accurate depiction of nerd fantasies so at least they got one detail right.