Maybe it is because I just watched the delightfully silly Celebrity Escape Room last night. Or maybe it is because one of the sub-themes of the movie is to use technology to bring down nations, which seems to be on my mind these days. Or maybe it is simply because I caught a few minutes of Inside Man the other night and that got me thinking about heist films. For whatever reason, the movie this month is Sneakers (1992, dir. Phil Alden Robinson).
I have always had a strong love for heist movies and Sneakers was probably the first one I loved. What is odd about that is this is a different take on the genre described by a quote from the film itself that states the following: “So people hire you to break into their buildings…to make sure nobody can break into their buildings?” So, it’s not really about some grand heist that is being planned in the old west or modern bank setting. It’s a story about a misfit group of people with unique skills that allows them to turn their skills into a legitimate business as security consultants.
The story would take too long to go through and likely would give away some important details, but the strength of the film is its stellar cast anyway. Led by Robert Redford, who is in charge of this team. His skills seem to be in general tactics and knowing a little bit about a lot of things. He is supported by Sidney Poitier – retired CIA officer, Dan Aykroyd – electronics technician who speaks mostly about conspiracy theories, David Strathairn – a blind telecommunications specialist, and River Phoenix – probably best described as a hacker. You also get a delightful performance from Mary McDonnell (fresh off her best role in Dances with Wolves) as Redford’s ex who just can’t help being drawn back into this group and Ben Kingsley as Redford’s former best friend turned villain. Special shout out to the high number of “That Guy” performances (you know – when you see a guy, and it is always a guy, who you recognize but cannot name usually playing a doctor or a scientist or the lawyer for the other side). You get to see Stephen Tobolowsky, Timothy Busfield, Donal Logue, Eddie Jones, and George Hearn. You may not know any of those names, but I promise you have seen them countless times on screen.
Sneakers is a bunch of silly fun wrapped around some potentially serious topics and filmed in such a way that you never lose either the fun or the suspense of the real danger these characters find themselves swimming in throughout the film. (It’s an expert touch from Robinson, who also directed Field of Dreams and then basically stopped directing for whatever reason. He also wrote both films, so I frequently wonder what happened and why he stopped making movies.) It is well worth a couple hours of your time to get a little bit of everything and all of it done really well.
Just Watch indicates no free streaming services currently listing Sneakers, but it is available for rent/purchase on virtually all of them.