A fantastic opportunity to revisit a film that remains relevant 20 years after release. Softley spoke passionately about his film and really added to the experience.
The new Showcase Cinema De Lux in Southampton has been hosting a range of different events recently to showcase the variety of talent in art, film and music. This included a showing of the 1995 film Hackers, with a question and answer session with the director Iain Softley afterwards. BBC Radio 5 Live’s film critic, Mark Kermode was also in attendance. Kermode talked about how he championed the film from its release despite it receiving a backlash from other critics at the time. After celebrating 20 years since release in 2015, there have been several showings of the film across the country and this has helped cement the film’s cult status.
Hackers looks at a group of teenagers who have become proficient hackers. Dade Murphy (Johnny Lee Miller) comes to New York having previously been charged of hacking. Soon after arrival he clashes with Kate (Angelina Jolie) and they are soon at odds with each other trying to impress their friends with their superior hacking skills. These were the first mainstream roles for both Miller and Jolie and the talent that would become so apparent in later years shows through in their touching performances. They too would later marry and the truly authentic chemistry between the two leads really helps to give the film its heart. Softley listed a number of actors and actresses that had read for the part but said that when they tested these two together, the choice was easy.
Hackers itself has aged well. Considering how far technology has come since the film’s initial release, some of the ideas presented are still pertinent today. In answer to a question related to this, Softley said that they based the film on predictions that technology and the internet was going to become much more social based. How the characters would be coping in 2017 is a fascinating question, especially considering how prevalent the issue of hacking is in the mainstream news at present. Softley did laugh off the idea of a sequel, and Kermode joked that after T2: Trainspotting was released this year, “H2” had a certain ring to it.
Both Kermode and Softley commented on how the film is still reaching a wider audience, and several people in the audience told the director that his film inspired them to go into various computing and technology degrees. The film made computer geeks cool for the first time and its impact is clear years later. In an age where the vast majority of Hollywood films are CGI heavy, Hackers showed that you can still produce very strong and powerful practical effects. The soundtrack to the film is fantastic as well and the fast paced music during the hacking scenes really adds to the experience.
It is a shame that the vast majority of people will have been unable to see this on the big screen, but it is a testament to its strengths that the film is so popular now. The two leads have gone on to bigger and better things, but they still speak fondly of the experience of making the film. The experience of watching this at the cinema was really enhanced by an opportunity to speak to the director and the facilitation of this by super fan Mark Kermode.
The ultimate week-long cinematic experience at Showcase Cinema de Lux Southampton takes place from 9th-15th June 2017 at Showcase Cinema, Southampton Watermark Centre. Tickets, as well as a full-line up of events can be viewed here.