Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) is the head of 'Sneakers', a computer group who test security systems. However, his political activist past catches up with him when the government use it as a lever to force him into doing some of their hi-tech dirty work. Bishop and his team reluctantly comply, only to discover that the missing black box they have been hired to retrieve can break into any computer system in the world!
This enjoyable thriller, written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (the screenwriter of Field of Dreams
), follows a raggedy group of corporate security experts who get in over their heads when they accept an assignment poaching some hot hardware for the National Security Agency. Robert Redford plays the group's guru, an ageing techno-anarchist who has been hiding from the feds since the early 1970s; his companionable gang of freaks includes Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, the late River Phoenix, and Sidney Poitier, as a veteran CIA operative turned "sneaker." The technological black box that everybody is after, an array of computer chips that can decode any encrypted message, isn't a very plausible invention, but it's a serviceable McGuffin, and the megalomania of the master plotter played by Ben Kingsley has more resonance than most. Modest inferences can be drawn about the very latest high-tech threats to civil liberties. --David Chute, Amazon.com
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