Redford & Poitier get Running
"Sneakers" is quite an enjoyable but a little dated thriller, which is fun and energetic as well as having some excellent moments of tension. Released back in 1992 there are some great references to how America and Russia were learning to deal with each other after the end of the Cold War. You would expect for a film made in 1992, and which deals with computers and hacking, to have become a bit dated, and sadly "Sneakers" has but not to the extent that it spoils the movie.
Martin Bishop (Robert Redford - The Natural) and Donald Crease (Sidney Poitier - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner) is in charge of a group of electronics experts who have skills in hacking and surveillance. They make a legitimate living by getting paid to test the security systems of multi-million dollar businesses. But when two government agents show up, Martin's dubious past catches up with him and he has a choice of being arrested or helping them to steal a mysterious device. Martin and his team agree to do the job for the agents, and everything is going to plan until they discover what the mysterious device is and the consequences that could arise from it falling into the wrong hands.
A huge bonus when it comes to "Sneakers" is the number of stars that appear in it, there must have been a huge budget for the cast's salaries. With such an all star cast, it is quite surprising that "Sneakers" never really got the critical acclaim it deserves. The main character in the movie is Martin Bishop, played by Robert Redford and is the head of the group of security experts who has a very dubious background. This is a good performance by Redford as he plays the part of the head of the hackers with relative ease. Part of the reason for this is he doesn't spout any technical babble which wouldn't have seemed right coming from him.
His second in command is Donald Crease played by Sidney Poitier, an ex CIA agent who lost his job due to dubious activities. Poitier is magnificent as Crease, as he demonstrates a very cautious approach to everything, whilst the rest of the team are more care free.
Probably my favourite character in "Sneakers" is Erwin 'Whistler' Emory, played by David Strathairn, a blind phone tapping expert. Whistler really does see with his ears as clearly demonstrated in some of the very clever scenes, he also has a penchant for reading the Braille version of Playboy. The funniest character is Mother played by Dan Aykroyd who believes everything is a conspiracy; he brings so much humour to the film as he explains his conspiracy theories. Finally you have Carl Arbegast played by River Phoenix, a young computer hacker who is not your typical computer nerd (No offence to all you hackers out there), basically he is too good looking to be a computer nerd.
There is also great supporting performance from Mary McDonnell and Ben Kingsley. All of the cast, both main and supporting, put in brilliant performances, and I believe that you can see that they enjoyed themselves making the movie. I would imagine there was quite a few out takes as they took the Mickey out of each other.
"Sneakers" was directed by Phil Alden Robinson who previously directed "Field of Dreams". Robinson has made a very good job of what I would class a fun thriller. He has kept the pace of the film moving at a canter and allowed the story, which he wrote with Lawrence Lasker to evolve and keep you engrossed. The whole film has its fair share of twists and turns and some very good moments of tension which keeps you gripped. But it also has its fair share of subtle humour which is provided by all the main stars allowing for a very balanced film. The location of the film is San Francisco which allows for some very beautiful camera shots and provides a lovely backdrop for the thriller. The sound track for the film is quite jazzy and surprisingly works pretty well at setting the mood and creating tension. It was created by James Horner who later went onto create the sound tracks for Braveheart, Titanic and A Beautiful Mind to name just a few.
What this all boils down to is that "Sneakers" is a good movie which is a pleasant mixture of humour and thriller. The storyline is reasonable although it does loose it towards the end. The performances are very good and provide plenty of humour. All in all a very good film which I honestly believe has not been matched by similar movies such as "Hackers" and "Swordfish".