We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Sneakers" tells the story of a legal break-in team - industrial espionage experts who you hire to break into your bank so you can test your security systems. The team is led by Bishop (Robert Redford), who, like all of its members, keeps a low profile because of illegal activities in the past - in his case, tampering with a computer system in the 1960s. When a government agency comes to Redford's group with a request for a job that falls outside the law, it can apply muscle because it knows all about those checkered pasts.
What the government wants to steal is a computer program that works as a universal code breaker. Anyone who possesses it will have access to every secret computer file in the world. And one of the bad guys who wants it is Cosmo (Ben Kingsley), an international techno-criminal backed up by thugs who trap Redford's team between a rock and a hard place.
The computer stuff in "Sneakers" has been widely touted (the studio even released a press kit on discs), but it's underwhelming in the movie. The big display of the secret program consists of a screen full of alphabet soup, which then unscrambles itself into a decoded message. The software to achieve this would be awesome, but the screen display is no big deal, and indeed one of the weaknesses of the movie is the way it pretends to be a techno-thriller when in fact it recycles much older traditions.
Take Redford's team, which is yet another version of the World War II platoon that always had one of everything. This time there is the black guy (Sidney Poitier), the fat guy (Dan Aykroyd), the blind guy (David Strathairn), the woman (Mary McDonnell) and the Kid (River Phoenix). There is not enough useful dialogue to go around for such a large team, and sometimes characters feel like they've been pushed on stage for obligatory scenes that are not really necessary.