Sneakers (movie)

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Sneakers
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Produced by Lawrence Lasker
Walter Parkes
Written by Phil Alden Robinson
Lawrence Lasker
Walter Parkes
Starring Robert Redford
Dan Aykroyd
Ben Kingsley
Mary McDonnell
River Phoenix
Sidney Poitier
David Strathairn
Music by James Horner
Cinematography John Lindley
Editing by Tom Rolf
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) September 11, 1992 (USA)
Running time 126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Money made $105,232,691


Sneakers is a 1992 American crime fiction comedy movie. It stars Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn. This was the second time Phoenix and Poitier starred together in a movie. The first was Little Nikita in 1988.

Plot[change | change source]

In 1969, students Martin Brice and Cosmo are hacking into computer networks. They are called "sneakers". They are at college. They are switching money illegally. The police burst in and arrest Cosmo while Martin is out getting pizza. Martin runs away and is a fugitive.

After a number of years, Martin, now called Martin Bishop, is heading a group of security specialists in San Francisco. They are: Donald Crease, a former CIA officer and family man; Darren "Mother" Roskow, who believes in conspiracy theory; Carl Arbogast, a young genius; and Irwin "Whistler" Emery, a blind phone expert.

The National Security Agency knows who Martin really is. They offer to clean his record, but he has to steal a "black box" from a mathematician, Dr. Gunter Janek. Janek made the box for the Russian government. Martin agrees to help. With help from his former girlfriend, Liz, Martin and his team get the box, which is disguised as an answering machine. Whistler, Mother, and Carl discover that the box can break the encryption code of nearly every computer system. Martin says no one can leave the building until they can deliver the box the next day.

Martin gives the box to the NSA officers, but quickly leaves after Crease discovers that Janek was killed the night before. He finds out from a friend named Gregor in the Russian consulate, that the officers were not real agents, and that Janek was working for the NSA.

Fake FBI agents kill Gregor and kidnap Martin. While kidnapped, he again meets Cosmo, who Martin thought had died in prison. While in prison, Cosmo got involved with organized crime, who helped him escape and get wealthy. He wants to use Janek's box to ruin the world economy. He asks Martin to join him. Martin says no, and so Cosmo uses the box to break into the FBI's files to add “Martin Brice” as a known alias to Martin’s record. Martin is knocked out and taken back to the city.

Martin calls his team for help. NSA agent Abbott, who wants the box, says Martin has to get it before he can help. By trickery, the team breaks into the building to recover the box. But Cosmo has been tipped off about a possible break-in. Cosmo locks down the building and holds Martin at gunpoint. Again he asks Martin to join him, but Martin refuses and the team escapes.

Back at their offices, Martin's team is met by NSA agents ready to arrest the group. But Martin convinces the NSA how important the secrecy of the box is to their agency. Abbott agrees to clear Martin's record and grant the requests of the rest of his team. After Abbott and the agents leave with the box, Martin shows his team he has ruined it by taking out the main processor.

Cast[change | change source]

Making the movie[change | change source]

Lasker and Parkes got the idea for Sneakers in 1981, while working on WarGames.[1] Once Robert Redford agreed to be in the movie, people who wanted to work with him then joined the cast and crew. This included the director, Robinson, who had little interest in the movie before.[1]

"I can't remember having so much fun on a movie," Tobolowsky said in a 2012 anniversary article for the website for Slate. He first laughed at the script just because of its title. After his agent talked him into reading it, he changed his mind. He then said to his agent, "Now I know what a hundred million dollars at the box office reads like."[2] The rest of the cast and crew also liked working on the movie. Near the end of the shoot Robinson said the only way it could have been better would have been if the lab lost the film, so they would have had to do it all over again.[2]

Reception[change | change source]

The movie got mixed reviews when it was released. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan said Sneakers is "[a] caper movie with a most pleasant sense of humor," a "twisting plot," and a "witty, hang-loose tone." He also praised the director, who is "surprisingly adept at creating tension at appropriate moments" and "makes good use of the script's air of clever cheerfulness".[3]

Roger Ebert gave the movie two-and-a-half stars out of four, saying it is "a sometimes entertaining movie, but thin."[4]

Vincent Canby, in a negative review for The New York Times, said the movie looked like it had "just surfaced after being buried alive for 20 years". He said that Redford and Poitier looked and acted too old. He said the plot was "feeble," and that the movie was "jokey without being funny, breathless without creating suspense". He calls the ensemble an "all star gang," but says the "performances are generally quite bad."[5] It currently holds an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 47 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10.

The movie was a box office success, making over $105.2 million worldwide.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weidman, Sara (October 8, 1992). "A Decade Later, 'Sneakers' is Complete". The Michigan Daily. p. 8. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tobolowsky, Stephen (September 10, 2012). "Memories of the Sneakers Shoot". Slate. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  3. "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Sneakers': A Caper With Lots of Twists". Los Angeles Times. 1992-09-09. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  4. Roger Ebert (1992-09-09). "Sneakers". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved May 28 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. "Reviews/Film; A 1970's Caper Movie With Heroes of the Time". The New York Times. 1992-09-09. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  6. "Sneakers Races to the Top Spot". Los Angeles Times. 1992-09-15. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 

Other websites[change | change source]