Phil Alden Robinson, USA, 1992)


Sneakers is an effortlessly entertaining film.


A surprising choice of project for director Phil Alden Robinson after the lyrical heights of Field of Dreams (1989), it resembles a Michael Caine heist movie of the ‘60s rejigged for the information age and the New World Order.


While its surface techno-dazzle recalls contemporary, cautionary fables like War Games (1983), its charm clearly derives from an earlier cinematic model, the Cary Grant comedy-thrillers made by Hitchcock.


The story line involves a team of sneakers communications, surveillance and break-in experts who are all, in one way or another, social misfits.


One day, government agents arrive with a mission to break the routine of their not especially glamorous sneaking. Assigned to obtain the black box invented by a brilliant cryptographer a computer device that can unscramble the most zealously guarded of state secrets the freelance team is soon plunged into an abyss of political duplicities and rivalries.


Robinson clearly had problems giving ample time to all the characters in the ensemble, but Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley and David Strathairn make an especially vivid impression, while Robert Redford demonstrates the smooth, comic side of his persona that has been overlooked in recent years.


Sneakers is a thoughtful, colourful and intricate film.


MORE Redford: Quiz Show, Up Close & Personal, The Clearing, Indecent Proposal, The Horse Whisperer, The Legend of Bagger Vance

© Adrian Martin July 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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