[box cover]

Sneakers: Collector's Edition

Making a film about computer hacking sounds like a bad idea — after all, if based in reality, the cast would probably consist of people who look more like Siskel and Ebert than movie stars. Thankfully, 1992's Sneakers mixes two icons from the '60s (Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier) with two actors known for working with John Sayles (David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell), a funnyman (Dan Aykroyd), a hot younger performer (River Phoenix), a favorite character actor (Stephen Tobolowsky), and an Oscar winner (Ben Kingsley), and churns out a light comic-caper snack. Redford stars as Martin Bishop, a hacker who has been living under an assumed name for 20 years and is now paid to break into people businesses to see how weak their security is. But when two NSA agents arrive at his door, they blackmail him to steal a black box with the promise of a $175,000 reward and the destruction of his past record. However, that box turns out to host a universal codebreaker that can crack any American encryption, and Martin knows he's in over his head — it turns out that the NSA men who approached him don't work for the government, but for his old hacker-in-arms Cosmo (Kingsley), who was arrested in his place and now wants the box to keep the government from having it. It's now up to Redford and his crew to get the box back so they can give it to the real NSA. Though often described as a comic thriller, the important thing to know about Sneakers is that it's a heist picture first and foremost and it follows the rules of the genre, especially in having "the team" behind it, with each member given identifiable quirks. Crease (Poitier) was the CIA agent who left under mysterious circumstances, "Mother" (Aykroyd) is the conspiracy nut who wants a Winnebago, "Whistler" (Strathairn) is blind but has an incredible sense of sound, Carl (Phoenix) is the virginal kid, and Liz (McDonnell) is the put-upon sort-of-ex of Martin's, who gets sucked into their dilemma when they need a woman to get close to programmer Werner Brandes (Tobolowsky). Directed by Phil Alden Robinson, this was not what most people thought would be his follow-up to his sleeper hit Field of Dreams, but the director delivers the sort of breezy heist film that manages to be engaging, ephemeral entertainment. Universal's Collector's Edition presents Sneakers in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary by writer/director Robinson and (unbilled on the case) writers/producers Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, who fondly reminisce about the making of the film. Also included is a 40-minute (mostly from the period) "making-of" doc and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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