Hackers is a 1995 American crime film directed by Iain Softley and starring Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, Laurence Mason, Renoly Santiago, Lorraine Bracco, and Fisher Stevens. The film follows a group of high school hackers and their involvement in a corporate extortion conspiracy.
Made in the mid-1990s when the Internet was unfamiliar to the general public, it reflects the ideals laid out in the Hacker Manifesto quoted in the film: “This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch […] We exist without skin colour, without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals. […] Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity.” The film received mixed reviews from critics, and underperformed at the box office upon release, but has gone on to achieve cult classic status.
On August 10, 1988, 11-year-old Dade “Zero Cool” Murphy’s family is fined $45,000 for his crashing of 1,507 computer systems causing a 7-point drop in the New York Stock Exchange. He is banned from computers and touch-tone telephones until he is 18 years old. On his 18th birthday, he hacks into a local television station and changes the broadcast to an episode of The Outer Limits. Another hacker (handle “Acid Burn”) counters Dade’s attack. Dade identifies himself as “Crash Override”.
At school, Dade becomes part of a group of hackers: Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez, Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein, Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook (named for his photographic memory), Joey Pardella (a novice hacker without an alias and the youngest member) and Kate “Acid Burn” Libby – the hacker who kicked him out of the TV network earlier.