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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 2/25/00

1992 (1998) - Universal

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Sneakers Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B-/C-

Specs and Features

125 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, theatrical trailer, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English, French & Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish

"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information."

Sneakers is one of those films computer geeks love. I should know this. I'm a computer geek. But this film prevails not because it is full of techno-babble and far-fetched intrigue. No, this film is full of characters you get attached to. Robert Redford does what he does best (i.e. be a charming leading man). Sidney Poitier (as the straight-laced ex-CIA agent) is amusing, especially as he becomes frustrated next to the conspiracy nut played by Dan Aykroyd. David Straithairn is somebody you have to cheer for as the blind but resilient "Whistler". When you pair these incredible actors together in such great roles, you have a film that's going to score at least a few dozen points.

The plot can be a bit complex, but it boils down to a pretty simple chain of events. Redford's character, Martin Bishop, has an outstanding warrant from some 1960s computer crime. His buddy, Cosmo, went down for the deed. Years later, Bishop (who has changed his name) is the leader of a bunch of security experts that are hired to break into banks and such, in order to find out where the holes are. In the real world, these are called tiger teams and were something of a fad during the mid-90s. Push comes to shove, and the NSA ends up forcing Bishop and his team to steal a black box that can supposedly break any code in the world.

From there, the proverbial "fit hits the shan", and soon all traces of credibility get tossed. It doesn't matter, because the film is light-hearted all the way through. The subject matter is just exotic enough for us to be able to suspend our disbelief. C'mon... it isn't like most of us make a day job of breaking security for the NSA.

As far as the video is concerned, the transfer is of a high quality. A few minor defects in the print were noticed, but that's because I was looking. The anamorphic transfer does wonders, and the general hues are very absorbing. A slight hint of color over-saturation aside, this is a quality transfer that is just above average for DVD. The audio is good, showing a considerable spatial feel and bass for the 2.0 mix. No complaints on that end.

The extras are on the slim side, typical of these kinds of releases. You've got the basic production notes and bios sections, with a theatrical trailer to round everything out. The disc could use some fleshing out. A few more extras would have been nice, and the inclusion of a 5.1 mix would have been an obvious choice, but it's not really all that necessary.

If you like the intrigue of spy films with a nice technological mix, you'll like Sneakers. And if you listen closely to Dan Aykroyd in this film, you'll find out all the great conspiracies of the past 25 years!

Brad Pilcher
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