As I said in my review for Entrapment earlier, I’m not a big fan of caper films simply because of the criminal nature of most of their plotlines. However, Sneakers manages to sidestep that issue for the most part by allowing the likable characters to put their formerly nefarious skills to a legal use: breaking into banks and such in order to help their security. Thus, until the last scene, which unfortunately shows that the “sneakers” are not completely on the straight-and-narrow, they use their expertise for (supposedly) reputable organizations or later to escape crimes they were either tricked into committing or for which they were framed. The legality of it all is still rather hazy, but at least they weren’t doing it to steal money or the like.
Sneakers has one of the best underrated ensembles, and the clever and laugh-out-loud script provides good lines and moments for every character. Dan Aykroyd as the conspiracy-spouting “Mother” and Sidney Poitier as Crease, the straight man, play off each other quite well, and David Strathairn is memorable as the blind but ever perceptive “Whistler,” as is Ben Kingsley as Cosmo, even if the villain’s ultimate fate is left up in the air. River Phoenix and Mary McDonnell round out the well-developed cast. As far as my VC is concerned, Robert Redford is reason alone to see it, and she also likes the sophisticated saxophone soundtrack played by Branford Marsalis. I also love James Earl Jones’s cameo at the end.
On top of all this, the methods used by Marty’s team are fascinating, from Whistler’s knack for hearing exactly what’s going on in distant rooms to Mother’s slow-moving tactic for outsmarting motion sensors. The 22-year-old film even manages to be up-to-date by involving the NSA, which has been in the news of late; particularly timely is the fake NSA agent’s insistence that Marty “trust” them. Despite some language and innuendo, Sneakers is an excellent mix of suspense and humor and a worthy member of the caper genre and my list.
Best line: (“Whistler”, while the team makes its demands to the NSA at the end) “I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” (Abbott) “We are the United States Government! We don’t do that sort of thing.”Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 4 Originality: 6 Watchability: 7 Other (language and innuendo): -6 TOTAL: 30 out of 60
Tomorrow: #318: The Planet of the Apes (1968)
© 2014 S. G. Liput