Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) leads a group of specialists - including a former CIA officer (Sidney Poitier), a conspiracy theorist/electronics technician (Dan Aykroyd), a young genius (River Phoenix) and a blind phone phreak/sound expert (David Strathairn) - that test the security of banks and other secure facilities. When the NSA hires them to acquire a new advanced code-breaking device, they find themselves caught up in a major conspiracy. Their only way out is to find the person who really wants the device, and prevent them from using it.
Sneakers may feel a little dated (OK very dated), but that thankfully hasn't affected it's entertainment value. This is certainly the first movie I've heard of where profanity was actually added to the script in order to achieve a higher age rating. Something that was done to prevent audiences thinking this was a movie for kids. Even today it's still a lot of fun, thanks mostly to some quirky casting. These guys all have excellent chemistry, much like their characters they make an excellent team. I could listen to Mother (Aykroyd) and Crease (Poitier) argue about conspiracy theories all day long! Mary McDonnell fits in perfectly as Bishop's ex-girlfriend who's dragged along for the ride, the look of befuddlement on her face no doubt mimicking that of audience members at times.
What could have easily turned out to be a pretty average heist movie, becomes a fun-filled comedy adventure, as an odd bunch of nerds attempt to steal the unstealable. In many ways, Sneakers very closely resembles Ocean's Eleven, just without the class or sophistication. And despite being a comedy, Sneakers is able to get serious when required, at times the stakes become all too real. The comedy comes when our heroes attempt to deal with said situation in their habitually peculiar way, like debating the best method to circumvent a key code lock or Whistler (Strathairn's blind sound expert) driving a van with assistance from Bishop.
Although, it would seem that the jokes weren't limited to the script. During filming, director Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) received a visit from men claiming to represent Naval Intelligence, who told him that for reasons of national security he couldn't include any references to a hand held code-breaking device. At the time it worried him enough that he consulted a lawyer, but later realised it was most likely a prank, possibly instigated by Redford or Aykroyd.
If you're a fan of Ocean's Eleven, heist movies, quirky comedies, and of course underdog stories, Sneakers is definitely a movie you should check out. Sure it's a bit dated, but you won't care, with its great characters and funny story, you'll be having too much fun! I mean, how often do the nerds get to save the day?
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