In Case You Missed It: Sneakers

So many films are released every year it’s impossible to see them all, some films don’t get picked up for repeat on the TV or find a promoted spot on a streaming service with that in mind did you ever see Sneakers?

From the early 90’s Sneakers is a mostly light-hearted conspiracy/heist movie with a stellar cast featuring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Akroyd, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix and Ben Kingsley.  Just a look at the ensemble cast makes this worth a look, the movie takes elements from the paranoia thrillers of the 70’s and it’s not difficult to imagine Redford’s character being a follow on from Condor in 3 Days of the Condor, however this is much lighter in tone than those films.


Martin Bishop (Redford) operates a security company that scams financial institutions then sells the information on their security weaknesses back to them.  The operatives consist of a blind communications expert (Strathairn), an expert in burglary and conspiracy nut (Akroyd), a high school drop out computer hacker (Phoenix) and an ex CIA officer (Poitier).  But Martin has a past that catches up with him forced into working with the NSA to prevent a ‘little black box’ falling into the wrong hands all may not be what it seems and just whose hands are the wrong hands?

Although the technology looks dated now the film is remarkably prescient about the role of information security, surveillance and big company/government snooping.  It stays away from in depth technical descriptions and focuses on the character interactions between great actors playing likeable heroes getting into scraps and close encounters as they pull off the ultimate ‘sneak’.

Fans of the classic paranoia thrillers of the 1970’s such as Three Days of the Condor and the Parallax View may regret the film doesn’t take a more serious turn into the deeper themes of surveillance and ask more questions, after all the sneakers themselves manipulate and observe but is that ok because they are the ‘good guys’? But this is primarily entertainment and although the cast with the exception of Strathairn’s superb physical performance barely have to stretch themselves we can sit back and watch great performers relax and craft subtle and humorous moments which elevate this film above the standard heist flick.

The film ends on a clever and humorous note and leaves you wishing you could spend more time with the Sneakers. 4/5


3 thoughts on “In Case You Missed It: Sneakers”

  1. Such an underrated film and one of my favorites from the 90s. You’re exactly right about the light hearted tone, but it’s too bad that more “serious” spy movies don’t build tension half as well as this comedy. I think the scene where they discover the power of the black box while playing Scrabble is still one the best shot and edited scenes like that in any spy film.


    1. It is indeed, the scrabble scene is one of my favourites too, funnily enough I was watching another spy movie this weekend the first mission impossible movie and there’s a scene in it where the members of the team are all laughing and joking and it’s supposed to show how close they are as a team but it’s so wooden and false you never believe it for a second compare that to the interaction of Sneakers….
      I saw another review of Sneakers online and to steal a line from that review “there are two kinds of people those who haven’t seen Sneakers and those who love Sneakers”


  2. Agreed. Saw it with my parents when I was about 13. Even my moody, cynical teenage self – who would have sooner died than admit he liked the same movie his parents did – loved it.


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