It’s like Hackers, but for the older dudes.
Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) is the head of a kick-ass security testings team that seems to do just about everything and anything right. They crack systems for companies that pay them to test their weaknesses, in hopes that they’ll never run into that problem when the real deal comes around to town. Everything seems to be going all perfect for Bishop and his crew, until some government officials get jealous of him and have a bone to pick, so they decide to blackmail him into stealing a highly valuable sort of black-box. What happens next is a crazy game of lies, deception, double-crosses, and most importantly, smiles. Smiles for everyone!
Everybody loves themselves a good spy movie. Better yet, they love themselves a spy movie with a whole lot of gadgets. The cool thing about these gadgets is seeing what it is that they can do: spy on you on when you think you’re alone; manipulate your voice even without you yourself speaking; and they can even change your whole identity and you would not know at all, until Customs had to take you aside for a “check-up”. Basically, these little gadgets are not things you want play around with, especially when you have somebody’s life in the palm of your hands, but there’s also something fun and exciting to all of that.
If you’re not on the receiving end of these gadgets, that is.
However, this movie knows the dangers of these little gadgets, but doesn’t let all of that get in the way of a fun time. The tone is a lot lighter than most “spy films” of the genre and in a way, it works. A lot of the humor here is surrounded by all of these guys being one, big motley crew of sorts that were just sprung together with barely any rhyme or reason – other than just the fact that they all know how to do some pretty smart stuff when it comes to being super, dee-duper smart spies. This was pretty cool to see as I never thought I’d ever get the chance to see Mister Tibbs and Dr. Detroit share the same screen, ever, but that’s the whole fun behind this film and what makes humorous.
The problem I ran into with this flick is that the plot is so damn thin that it barely interested me at all. I get that not all spy flicks like this are going to have original and breathtaking story-lines that change the game, but at least give me something more to work with here. All of the plot twists that occur within the last hour or so, are all terribly predictable and don’t add much to anything other than having some gullible people in the audience be totally shocked. I mean honestly people, do you really think the guy is going to give his prized possession up in a fair way by just simply handing it over to him? Give me a break!
Also, the plot seemed to really start-and-stop with itself like it had all of the time in the world to tell it’s predictable story. There were literally times when I started to doze off because nothing interesting at all was happening on-screen and that was a real bummer since I thought there was going to be a lot more heist-y stuff going on that would at least catch my attention. And even when they did come up and liven everything up for me, they were gone very soon and never really heard from again, only until the last hour. Could have been more wild, could have been more exciting, and could have been more energetic.
But I guess that’s why they had two old dudes in the lead for this flick.
Speaking of those two old dudes, it’s great to see Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier, as well as the rest of the ensemble. Robert Redford seems like he still has that cool wit and charm to his whole act, even if he is a bit older; Sidney Poitier still has his act as the tough son-of-a-bitch when it comes to being in the police force, but he still has some great lines that had me howling just because it’s him saying them and you can hardly ever be bored with him; Dan Aykroyd was fine as a person called “Mother”, and he has some nice lines in here as well, which isn’t much of a surprise, because he’s Dan Aykroyd for lord’s sakes; Mary McDonnell was a little feisty fire cracker that doesn’t let this become a total sausage fest and brings out some great lines to go against everybody else’s; David Strathairn plays the main blind guy who has his time to shine, and it’s a very well-deserved scene because Strathairn is so good with what he does, but is so pushed to the back, it made me a bit upset; and then you got River Phoenix in one of his last roles ever. It’s not a big role for him, but it’s still a nice reminder as to why this kid had so much potential to be great in the first place.
The one who comes completely out of nowhere and steals this film for all of the wrong reasons is probably Ben Kingsley as Redford’s old friend, now-turned-enemy, Cosmo. Without me even knowing beforehand, I had no idea that Kingsley was even in this until I saw the opening credits flash his name and it kind of got me pumped up wondering when, or where he was going to show up and do his thing. When he finally does show up and do his said thing, it’s laughable because of how ridiculous he looks with his pony-tail, and how terrible the American accent he’s trying to pull off is. Really, he steals every scene he’s in because it’s so funny to just watch him struggle with this accent and make a character mean and detestable, when all he seemed like was one, big push-over that you could easily just beat the crap out of. It’s weird though, because ten years later, he would totally prove me, as well as I’m sure many others, wrong.
Maybe it was the British accent that made him do better in that one.
Consensus: Sneakers fancies itself a good time and with the twisty plot, fun spy gadgets, and charming ensemble, which makes it hard to not join in on the fun, even if the story itself may weave in and out of cohesiveness.
6.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images
Nice review Dan. Love Ben Kingsley, intrigued to check this one out!
I agree the plot isn’t the best and it’s a little over-the-top by the end, but this movie has been a guilty pleasure for me since it came out. I think it has one of the most memorable ensemble casts ever.
Never heard of this, though I do like Poitier and Redford. Doesn’t appear like I am missing much. Good review.
Strathairn’s driving scene is the best! By the way, David and Mary McDonnell have appeared in a number of movies together.
Good review, Dan. I agree it was a fun movie. I liked it a little more than you did, but I am almost one of those old dudes. As for Mary McDonnell, this was the role she chose after her breakout in “Dances with Wolves.”
I haven’t seen this since it came out but I remember really enjoying it. What a cast!
Its a weird title. It made me think of shoes. Excellent review, man 😀
I love this movie. It doesn’t stand up as well now as it did in ’92 when it came out, but it was such a fun movie. I remember even seeing this twice in the theater!
Nice review Dan!
I love it when I get reminded of a movie that I went to the theater to watch in the pre-kid days! I remember loving the movie at the time, we even rented it back in the good old VHS rental store days. I will probably watch it again this summer while I’m off work. I hope age and your review doesn’t make me too analytical and scrutinizing of a fun movie. 🙂 If you are ever looking for a chick type flick check out my post and let me know what you think. http://www.notquitewonderwoman.com/15-great-motherdaughter-girls-night-movies/
I really love this movie but it’s been ages since I last seen it. My favorite bit is when Redford needs to get through a door and he’s listening to instructions. As a viewer you expect something fancy and then he just kicks in the door…such a cool and funny sequence 🙂