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Hackers by Iain Softley

Title Hackers
Director Iain Softley
Production Company MGM
Year 1995
Run Time 105 minutes
Rating PG-13

Teaser Daring to defy a court ruling, blow his chances at getting into college, and being arrested for a second time, Dade Murphy - alias 'Zero Cool' or 'Crash Override' - and his friends must use all of their techno-skills to beat a deadly computer virus before it runs its course.

Plot Summary After being busted for hacking as a child, Dade Murphy, aka 'Zero Cool' or later 'Crash Override,' was banned from accessing the Internet, using a computer, or even operating a touch-tone phone until his eighteenth birthday. As that date approaches, however, his parents divorce and he leaves the sleepy suburbs for New York City where it is quickly apparent that he has ignored the orders and stayed current with the computer and hacking world. When one of his new friends accidentally stumbles upon a dangerous computer virus planted within the supercomputer of an international company, it is up to Dade, Kate, 'Cereal Killer,' 'Lord Nikon,' and 'Phantom Phreak' to uncover the hacker behind the scheme before all of them and their friend Joey go to jail for it. To do so they must use all of their hacking skills and techno-knowledge to find and distribute the evidence and truth across the world.

Critical Evaluation Though the technology is now dated and laughable, at the time this movie was made the Internet, the dot-com boom, and hacking were all the rage. Teenagers wanted a movie where they could feel like they were part of that world, even if they could only live it vicariously through this movie. While at times the realism is greatly suspended, for the most part this movie is a good look at the underground world of hackers in the mid-90s. One of the biggest moments of disbelief is the graphical representation of computer viruses and hacking. It is an understandable editorial choice, though, because it allows those unfamiliar with computers and viruses to imagine what it is those with the techno-knowledge are seeing when they look at computer code and lets the viewer connect to the subject matter. This movie was also one of the earlier acting debuts of popular stars such as Angelina Jolie and Matthew Lillard, whom modern teens would know about and possibly be interested in.

About the Author Iain Softley (November 30, 1956) is an English film director. While there are not many films to his credit, he did direct the film Backbeat (1994) for The Beatles. Within the last decade he has only directed three movies, but he is rumored to be developing a movie adaptation of Stephen Gallagher's book The Boat House. This will be his second attempt to do so, the first having failed in the late 90s.

Primary Genre Crime

Secondary Genres Action/Thriller

Curriculum Ties Computer Science

Booktalking Ideas

1) How has the technology evolved since this movie was made?
2) Has the computer jargon used in this movie changed?
3) Does technology truly even the odds between those with resources such as the government and those with techno-knowledge?

Interest Age 13+

Challenge Issues Brief Nudity, Sexual References

1. Become familiar with the film, the context of the scene, and the duration and exposure of the nudity.

Why is it included? This was one of my favorite films as a teenager with an interest in computers.