You know what you’re in for the moment that Cereal Killer (Matthew Lillard), one of the teen computer-genius heroes, describes the cyberprank he and his buddies are about to pull as ”a seriously righteous hack.” Byte on, dude! (And to think that 20 years ago these people would have been math majors.) It would be nice to describe the second feature directed by Iain Softley, who made the terrific BackBeat, as a noble failure; in fact, it’s a dismal mess. The plot, which centers on the attempts of Dade (Jonny Lee Miller), the cute new whiz on the block, to defeat an evil corporate hacker called The Plague (Fisher Stevens, doing his best impersonation of Michael Douglas’ jowls), has all the coherence of a scrambled disc. The characters, with their coyly self-satisfied techno-patter, are like John Hughes rejects. What’s most grating about Hackers, however, is the guileless way the movie buys in to the computer-kid-as-elite-rebel mystique currently being peddled by magazines like Wired. The heroes are viewed as saintly multicultural avatars of a brave new egghead world — when, in fact, a more accurate portrait of today’s on-line youth would revolve around some dweebish adolescent downloading photographs from Penthouse. D


  • Movie
  • 107 minutes
  • Iain Softley