One of the great things about movies is their ability to reach new generations of movie goers decades after their initial release. The guys at Cinema Sins have been talking about this movie on their podcast for a while so I thought I'd check it out. The DVD only cost me £3.75 on Amazon and it was money well spent. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I'm shocked I'd never heard of it before. An opinion I seem to share with other Cinema Sins fans.
Martin Bishop (Redford) leads a group called the Sneakers, these specialists including a former CIA officer, a conspiracy theorist/electronics technician, a young genius and a blind phone phreak/sound expert, test the security of banks and other secure facilities. The NSA hire them to acquire a new advanced code breaking device before the Russians do. Remember this movie was released in 1992, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. It's an Ocean's Eleven style caper where a quirky bunch use their combined skills and intellect to pull off a complicated heist. The movie boasts an incredible ensemble cast including:
- Robert Redford (All the President's Men, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Sidney Poitier (The Jackal)
- Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, Spies Like Us)
- Mary McDonnell (Independence Day, Battlestar Galactica)
- David Strathairn (L.A. Confidential, The Bourne Ultimatum)
- River Phoenix (Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Mosquito Coast)
- Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3, Ghandi)
- James Earl Jones (Star Wars, The Hunt for Red October)
- Donal Logue (Gotham, Blade, Sons of Anarchy)
- Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Sneakers does feel a little dated but that certainly doesn't affect its entertainment value. It's a fun movie with an interesting cast. It's certainly the first movie I've heard of where profanity was actually added to the script to achieve a higher rating. This was done to prevent audiences thinking it was a kids movie. When Robert Redford joined the production his name was used to attract other cast and crew members including Director Phil Alden Robinson. In a piece for Slate marking the 20th anniversary of the movie; Stephen Tobolowsky stated he was initially uninterested based on the title alone, but was convinced by his agent to read the script, it was then that he changed his mind. In fact he's quoted as saying "I can't remember having so much fun on a movie" and "it was the one of the most spectacular casts I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of" Tobolowsky admitted he wished the lab had lost the film so they'd have to make the movie all over again.
According to Wikipedia, at one point during filming Phil Alden Robinson received a visit from men claiming to represent Naval Intelligence, who told him that he couldn't include references to a hand held code breaking device for reasons of national security. Due to the fact this an important plot point of the movie, Robinson - a former US Airforce Captain - consulted a lawyer. This resulted in his realisation that the whole thing was a prank, possibly instigated by Redford or Aykroyd. Two things you should watch out for are the Hill Valley Clock Tower's appearance in the opening sequence and Whistler (David Strathairn's blind sound expert) driving the van with the assistance of Redford's character.
If you're a fan of Ocean's Eleven, heist movies and underdog stories it's highly likely you'll enjoy Sneakers. It may feel dated but the great characters, excellent casting and funny story make for a very entertaining movie. Have you seen Sneakers? Did you watch it on the recommendation of the guys at Cinema Sins like I did? Leave a comment and let us know what you think, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.