Hackers

I’ve just finished watching the movie “Hackers” again and let me tell you, I still love the movie. The first time I watched was way back in high school. I didn’t know much back then so I watched the movie and paid little attention to detail. This time around, I caught a lot of things that I didn’t notice before.

The movie stars Jonny Lee Miller as Zero Cool/Crash Override and Angelina Jolie as Acid Burn. The two starts off as rivals but slowly their fall for each other. It’s your typical boy meets girl kind of movie.

The movie starts off with the FBI raiding Zero Cool’s home because he launched a virus that shutdown 1,507 computer systems. This is quite an incredible feat for an eleven year old kid.

Hackers

Back in the day, the language they used in the movie was standard and I understood it. But with today’s technology, I can’t help it but laugh when they talk about their top of the line computer systems.

Phantom Phreak: Yo, check this out guy! This is great! It’s got a 28.8kbps modem.
Crash Override: Yeah? Display?
Cerial Killer: Active matrix, man. A million psychedelic colours. Baby’s sweet!
Lord Nikon: I want it!
Phreak: I want it to have my children!
Cereal: I bet it looks crispy in the dark.
Phreak: Yo, hit the lights.
All: Oooooooh!

Today, we’re surfing the internet at high speed. Back then, they were using dial up. I hated dial up because of that noise the the modem made every time it tries to connect to the server. It wasn’t until I bought the 33.6kbps mode that I was able to turn it off.

I remember back in the day when I had a 14.4kbps modem, I cruising the bulletin board systems (BBS). I would dial to a local BBS and start uploading and downloading files. Once in a while, I would start chatting with the system operator (SysOp). I didn’t meet any of these people face to face but I started to get to know them.

BBS was the internet of back in the day. Users would dial in and sign on and start doing things that we would be doing now. The system had its own mail function, file sharing and text based gaming. Yes, we played games that were text based. Some of the local BBS required you to be elite in order to register. You had to know the terminologies of the computer world or else you wouldn’t be approved. I guess I was pretty elite since I managed to get on.

The BBS world slowly died down as dial up internet connection started coming out. I haven’t visited a BBS since the mid nineties. Back then, I use to be online all night long, just going from system to system, sharing files and reading messages left by other users. I went by the alias “Airborne.”

In the movie, most of the hackers had rollerblades. I got into rollerblading too because of this movie but I didn’t get into the hardcore rollerblading stuff until I saw the movie “Airborne” which is where I got the alias from.

Sorry, I got a little side tracked, back to the movie. It takes place seven years later after Zero Cool’s probation. When he was caught, his punishment was that he was not allowed anywhere near a computer or a touch tone phone until his 18th birthday. So what does he do on the day he turns 18? He hooks up his computer to the phone line and starts hacking again.

He hacks into a television stations and meets another hacker by the alias, “Acid Burn.” The two start to battle over what television show gets aired. It’s a battle he eventually loses because he’s on someone else’s turf.

He goes to school the next day and meets another hacker name “Phantom Phreak”. Hacking and phreaking are two different things. Hacking is gaining unauthorized access to a secure system while phreaking is hacking the phone. Phantom Phreak was good enough to hack a pay phone to allow him to make free long distance phone calls to Venezuela. He also meets a neophyte hacker who didn’t have an alias. This kid wanted to be elite but he doesn’t know much about hacking yet. He’s still struggling to get a name for himself. Phreak gives Crash Override a flyer and lets him know of a place where hackers hang out. There, he meets “Cereal Killer.” Later, they head on over to another hacker’s place, “Lord Nikon.”

Joey, the neophyte hacker manages to hack into a tight security system and downloaded some information. But the next day, the FBI shows up at his apartment and confiscate his computer. They had to let him go because they couldn’t find any evidence of the downloaded file.

After being release, Joey informs Phreak of the file he downloaded. Phreak passes on the message of the downloaded file and the team try to figure out what’s on the disk. Eventually, they figure out what’s on the disk but what they had was only part of a whole. The need to hack back into the system and get to the bottom of things. They were being framed for something that they didn’t do so they needed to hack into the system in order to clear their name and stop an ecological disaster.

I’d give this movie two thumbs up because I like it. I like it a lot! Back then, I believe everything in the movie. They would hack into credit card companies and change information. Hack into a television station to change the current movie. Or even hack into the school’s security system to change your class list. But now that I look back on it, it’s not that easy. Basically, the things that they were seeing on the computer monitor was just a representation.

The soundtrack is pretty good too. Most of the music was a sort of rave/techno mix. I wasn’t that big into that type of music back then but nowadays, I listen to just about anything. I think I bought the soundtrack for the movie, even though I only liked a couple of songs. I guess that’s how much I liked the movie.

If you haven’t seen Hackers, I’d recommend that you go rent it because I’m not lending my copy out to anyone. If I like you enough, maybe I’ll consider letting you beg me to borrow it. Otherwise, my copy of Hackers stays right on my computer desk. Hack the Planet!