Teenage hackers uncover a massive computer fraud in this romantic action-adventure from director Iain Softley that’s set against the intriguing backdrop of New York’s cyber-culture.
Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller) is the new kid at school who is hiding his past. Dade is secretly ‘Zero Cool’, the legendary hacker who – at the age of 11 – crashed Wall Street with a few keystrokes. Now 18 – and allowed to touch a computer again – Dade adopts the new handle ‘Crash Override’.
His first foray as a Big Apple hacker (“I’m taking over a TV network”, he tells his unsuspecting mother) leads to a cyberspace duel with a hacker known as ‘Acid Burn’. To Dade’s shock, he loses.
At school, Dade falls in with a bunch of hackers who call themselves ‘Cereal Killer’ (Matthew Lillard), ‘Lord Nikon’ (Laurence Mason) and ‘Phantom Phreak’ (Renoly Santiago).
He also draws the disdain of gorgeous hacker Kate (Angelina Jolie).
Dade eventually discovers that Kate is, in fact, ‘Acid Burn’. They spar at first, but it’s obvious that they belong together. The tipoff is in their handles – Crash and Burn.
Their hacking mostly consists of harmless pranks. Modems give them access to a vast electronic wilderness and they consider themselves no less than explorers of this brave new world. But an evil computer genius called The Plague (Fisher Stevens) plans to frame the young hackers for a virus that will electronically commandeer a fleet of oil tankers and force them to capsize.
It’s little more than a standard industrial espionage chase thriller, given a stylish patina by its digital-age atmosphere, complete with often bewildering technical data and imaginative journeys down the information super-highway.
Dade Murphy (Crash Override)
Jonny Lee Miller
Kate (Acid Burn)
Agent Dick Gill