Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
Written By: Phil Alden Robinson, Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes
Produced By: Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes
Cast: Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, James Earl Jones, David Strathairn
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 126 minutes
Review Date: July 16, 2010
All-star male cast, token trophy girl, thieves, driving vans and a geek who knows way too much about computers and hacking systems… No, it’s not an Ocean’s movie with George, Brad, and Matt. Sneakers is a film that came more than 30 years after Frank, Dean, and Sammy pulled their heist on Las Vegas (later reenacted by George, Brad, and Matt). Instead of Las Vegas or some other glamorous city, Martin Bishop & Associates do their work on cases in their backyards. Because of this, Sneakers seems more realistic, and the superb acting from the cast sells that realism.
Martin Bishop & Associates consisted of Martin ‘Marty’ Bishop (Robert Redford), Donald Crease (Sidney Poitier), Irwin ‘Whistler’ Emery (David Strathairn), Darren ‘Mother’ Roskow (Dan Aykroyd) and Carl Arbogast (River Phoenix). Each brings a bit of something special to the group, like all good and successful team members do. Bishop is the ringleader of the group and has been in “the business” for numerous years. Also of note: he has an outstanding warrant for his arrest (so he never did his time like a Danny Ocean). Crease is the voice of reason and an ex-government official. Whistler is blind but somehow able to do the most astounding things with a computer. Mother has all the electric sense and rarely ever challenges a plan. Just tell him what to do, and he’s off. Arbogast is the young one of the bunch and eager to prove his keep.
The group/gang/thieves/masterminds are approached by alleged government authorities to retrieve a black box from a famous mathematician. Inside the box is a contraption that can break every single computer code on the planet. The task seems easy enough, and of course, the boys pull it off. Once they hand this over to the authorities, Bishop and Crease realize these were “authorities.” The men determine to spend the rest of the film trying to recover the black box, as it’s in now dangerous hands.
Just like the Ocean’s films, you’ll see these guys coming up with the most insane game plans, nearly getting caught, actually getting caught, somehow escaping — all the while keeping you on your toes, wondering what happens next.
The character of Whistler really proves his importance in the film towards the end as he takes you on one hell of a ride. It’s always amazing to see actors can come in and truly pull off a blind man. In Meet Joe Black, I kept telling myself Brad Pitt’s not really blind, so why can’t he see? Strathairn does a fantastic job selling Whistler’s role from the get go. Also important to note is Arbogast, who has a limited lines in the scene, but is always there for the young, tongue-in-cheek banter. There’s no sneaking around — this film is fantastic from finish to end.
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.