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This is one of my guilty pleasures, a movie that i really enjoy tremendously, even though i think i shouldn't. I have watched it regularly, every 2 years or so, since i first saw it in the theaters in 1995. But so many things in this movie are just right.
First, the soundtrack is top notch. The music, and the songs featured are so 1995 it's incredible. You will be hard-pressed to find a top electronica song of that time that is not featured in this movie. We are talking Prodigy, Leftfield, Underworld, Orbital, Moby, The Orb. These are all the stuff i listened to day and night at that time, so each piece resonnates with me even more. Each track is used very judiciously in the film for maximum effect. The soundtrack of this film is just perfect. On DVD, the soundtrack is even better. The 5.1 mix is really powerful, and makes use of all channels. This DVD should be played loud: the music and overall sound effects are all great.
From a story point of view, this is a well rounded one, although the average writing detracts from it from time to time. But overall, this is a classic story of good hackers defending the right way against bad hackers. But it does not try to be over the top, or pretentious. They got the terminology right and beyond the Hollywood technobabble, a computer literate person will be fairly happy with the details presented in the movie. The story is full of likable characters and interesting situations.
Another strong point is the cast. We won't have any Oscar winners, but Jonny Lee Miller, the ever so gorgeous Angelina Jolie in her first role, and the rest of the crew form a believable posse of young hackers. I also liked the imagery created for the movie. Of course, they do not relate to any real computer interfaces, but it does not seem to matter here. It still works, and from an artistic point of view, they are very nice. Finally, art direction is quite cool with great outfits that feel so 1995 again, and a good use of New York City, although, at one point, the protagonists leave Washington Square going south through MacDougal in order to go to Grand Central. Ouch! But did i mention that Prodigy's Voodoo People is playing during that scene? So i guess it's OK.
Overall, the attitudes, the story, the characters, the music, the outfits, NYC, all capture better than anything i have ever seen the feel, the mood, of the computer geeks and hackers in the US circa 1995. The only other movie that captures the hacker culture as well in my opinion is The Matrix 1 (1999), although that movie is far superior to this one.
- Laurent Hasson