My voice is my passport; verify me.
I find it difficult to believe it has been 20 years since Sneakers was released, and yet Slate's lengthy coverage of the movie makes it clear that this is so. In late summer 1992 this sly little movie made its debut. Released three years before Hackers, Sneakers was not only more prescient, it was also a better movie all around. Even though both movies went on to become cult favorites, it's an interesting exercise in futurism to compare and contrast the two.
Both Sneakers and Hackers (and the cyberpunk movement as a whole) were working from the same playbook. These concepts, that pervasive technology would be turned against "the little guy" by greedy corporations, are core to the cyberpunk genre. But what Sneakers brings to the table is, like, not being a freak about it.
What Sneakers lacks compared to other movies of the genre is that post-punk attitude which was old about five minutes after it hit the screen. So much youthful posturing! I cringe to think about it.
Nobody in Sneakers wears a motocross jacket, or has an asymmetrical razor cut. The characters are regular people, albeit very smart regular people with an unorthodox job.
There is only one character in Sneakers who talks in big pretentious generalities, and it's no mistake that he (Ben Kingsley) is the bad guy.
Sneakers is very clear about not taking itself too seriously. How refreshing, for a genre that basically specialized in taking itself too seriously. Sneakers is not a comedy in the sense of "Adam Sandler in a funny voice." But it is a funny movie, with a lightness of spirit that makes it immensely watchable.
Sneakers is also a smart movie, in a way that most cyberpunk capers are not. The story's momentum is carried along by puzzles which must be solved. From the anagrams (Setec Astronomy) to reverse engineering the path Robert Redford took to the bad guy's lair based on the sounds he heard from inside the trunk of the car. Sneakers moves forward because its characters are clever.
(One of the stranger things about this movie is that, over the last 20 years, it has become clear that Dan Aykroyd was essentially playing himself. We all chuckled when Aykroyd's character went off on a long paranoid tangent about various interconnected conspiracy theories. But the man is literally out in the field researching UFO footage and claiming that aliens were responsible for 9/11.)