“This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.” During a rare quiet moment in Iain Softley’s rambunctious 1995 film Hackers, a Secret Service agent sits in a car on a stakeout, reading a section of The Hacker Manifesto aloud. Written in 1986 by The Mentor, the essay was as fundamental to hacker culture in 1995 as it is today.
It’s also the philosophy that runs through Softley’s hacksploitation flick and cult phenomenon, starring the fresh-faced and soon-to-be-wed Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie. The early moments of the film establish the antagonism of the story with a bang: the Secret Service knocking down the door to arrest eleven-year-old Dade Murphy on charges of hacking. After he has been whisked away in a slow-motion flurry of flashbulbs and credits, we next see Dade in the air, staring down at the narrow streets and wide avenues of Manhattan, gliding towards a new life and one hell of a MacGuffin.
I saw this movie around the time it came out, and have watched it a ton of times since. It would regularly cycle through HBO, often early in the morning, and my wife and I would watch it while we were having our coffee. I have a lot of affection for this ridiculous movie.