back to article Remember those wacky cyberpunk costumes in Hackers? They're on display in London this week

Fans of 'cyber' flick Hackers can amuse themselves by visiting an exhibition of the characters’ costumes in London – but time is running short if you want to catch a glimpse of Angelina Jolie’s bizarre getups. “Back in the future of 1995, the teen techno-thriller Hackers (directed by Iain Softley) burst onto cinema screens …

  1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Horrible movie

    Wacky costumes for a horrible movie.

    I mean.. it was so bad it was fun, campy if you like..

    1. teknopaul Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Horrible movie

      horrible, implausible plot: no one would believe hackers could shut down an oil pipeline...

      wacky costumes indeed: unless you did your job interview at burning man.

      1. EricB123 Bronze badge

        Re: Horrible movie

        Hackers shutting down an oil pipeline? I say pshaw to that!

    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Horrible movie

      shame the franchise ended with hackers 2: takedown

    3. martyn.hare
      Pint

      It was and still is

      A beautiful, inspiring piece of art, bringing to life a believable vision of how underground subcultures are often a wonderful nuisance rather than a grave threat to normal people. It is one of the few films I’ve rewatched many times over and with many different groups of friends and I can say it still holds up pretty well.

      Kinda makes me wanna host a BBS that’s hooked up to a DVD auto changer streaming RTSP to the Internet. Plus, what’s the difference between an oil pipeline and a couple of rival IRC networks anyway?

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: It was and still is

        Just watched it again, story and dialog totally holds up to this day. Cool costumes about what I was wearing in the 90's ;), defo not too wacky for 17 year-olds in New York. Wicked soundtrack: UK artists represent: Stereo MCs, Prodigy, Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld. Top fractally graphics during the keyboard tapping scenes.

        Class acting all round from a teenage cast.

        If you read the chat-logs from the LulzSec case, its like a teen-movie script. The SWATing is understated compared to reality.

        Our reg journalist's dig that it's _implausible_ that Johnny Lee Miller would score a date with Ms Jolie is a bit snide: they got married IRL!

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: It was and still is

          Our reg journalist's dig that it's _implausible_ that Johnny Lee Miller would score a date with Ms Jolie is a bit snide: they got married IRL!

          You do realise there's a difference between "IRL" and the characters that actors play in a movie, right?

        2. EricB123 Bronze badge

          Re: It was and still is

          "Our reg journalist's dig that it's _implausible_ that Johnny Lee Miller would score a date with Ms Jolie is a bit snide: they got married IRL!"

          In "the truth is even stranger than fiction dept." I heard that your prime minister just got married...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It was and still is

            'In "the truth is even stranger than fiction dept." I heard that your prime minister just got married...'

            Why is that strange? He's done it before. Twice.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It was and still is

              I have it on good (canonical in fact) authority that no, he hasn't.

          2. macjules

            Re: It was and still is

            Ah, but with Boris "marriage" creates a vacancy for a mistress.

  2. Wally Dug
    Happy

    Soundtrack

    I can't really remember the movie to be honest (which means I probably paused it at the computer displays and laughed at the "IP addresses" or "hacking commands" shown and vowed never to watch it again), but I do have the soundtrack on CD, so the music must have been pretty decent.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Soundtrack

      Not seen it for a good while myself but I don't really remember any sort of command line hackery, I do recall such ridiculous things as a kaleidoscope type effect as the hackers "travelled" down the cables to their target and fancy custome splash screens on the hackers laptops as they booted up which were far beyond the capabilities of the consumer hardware of the time.

    2. Blazde

      Re: Soundtrack

      Turns out there's 3 albums worth of soundtrack so they really ran with 'the music is the one good thing about this film'.

      As both a teenage hacker and skateboarder at the time I remember seeing the trailer and being doubly exasperated that my crafts of choice were being lampooned and probably misunderstood by unsuspecting adults who had the misfortune to see the movie. Now looking back I can kiiinda appreciate how so-bad-its-good the fur trench-coat wearing skateboarding "I is here" trying-too-hard-to-be-badass baddy looks, but still not enough to make me want to sit through 107 minutes of it all. Maybe in another 25 years.

      1. EricB123 Bronze badge

        Re: Soundtrack

        "Maybe in another 25 years."

        I'll bet 10 years will be more than sufficient.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Soundtrack

          I wouldn't bet on it, at least in my case. I don't think I'll ever be able to sit through the whole thing.

          There are certainly many bad movies I enjoy, but Hackers isn't one of them.

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    Capsizing oil tankers via software

    I don't remember the plot in Hackers but is that really "laughable" today? Imagine an oil tanker that has a satellite internet connection, and software that can command it to pump oil from one internal tank to another. Maybe there is one giant tank inside but I'd put my money on it being multiple smaller tanks inside to limit the damage in an accident. If so it would have to have the ability to move oil around between tanks to stay balanced especially while oil is being loaded or unloaded. Similar to how bilge pumps work.

    If it has security as good as that pipeline in the US, one could imagine a hacker connecting to a tanker while it is loading or unloading oil in a port, waiting for it to be about half full, then telling it to pump all the oil to the internal tanks on one side.

    1. Wim Ton
      FAIL

      Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

      There was an accident of an oil tanker breaking in 2. The crew only unloaded the middle tanks, and the ship was not designed for such a bending force. Apparently, the warning software has a Norwegian UI, which was not understood by the Korean crew.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

        No tanker is designed to withstand such bending forces. Also, any software / UI would have been in English, if not Korean, for it to be Classed and satisfy Flag State requirements, not to mention P&I cover, although KR used to be very dodgy. I suggest there is a lot more to the story such as it was an OBO structural failure due to poor design.

        1. EricB123 Bronze badge

          Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

          I have always noticed the most maritime disasters (not to mention most disasters in general) can be blamed on blanket stupidity.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

            There used to be a problem on PRC owned ships resulting from interference by the Political Commissar. When carrying out flag state inspections I had to politely ask Commissars to leave confidential meetings with Masters and Chief Engineers. To the best of my knowledge their presence and influence have decreased recently although I suspect there will still be an unknown crew member keeping an eye on people.

    2. Blazde
      Pirate

      Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

      Oil tanks are certainly split up on the big supertankers. I don't know how possible pumping one to another is at sea. A lot of work goes into making sure oil doesn't end up spilling so you likely couldn't just dump all tanks on one side. However they also have ballast tanks and those can be emptied/filled with water specifically to rebalance the ship. If you unbalanced those, do it in rough weather, steer the ship the wrong way, and focus on exploiting some design flaw involving natural frequencies of half-filled oil tanks maybe, just maybe it'd be possible. Especially if you can remotely lock the doors to contain the crew and stop them overriding everything, since it's take a good while to pump.

      Or you could just drive a single tanker into the bank of the Suez canal with one quick rudder override, carefully clean up and exfiltrate the system, then spend a whole week laughing as manically as someone who wanted to do that would probably laugh. I wonder how effective the cover-up would be if that actually happened? Initially the captain and the shipping company would probably come out with different stories and everyone would blame each other rather than blame the hacker they don't want to admit exists, but they'd go silent as the lawyers got to work, and lay observers would likely call out the weather before possibly settling on some novel but scientifically pleasing fluid dynamical explanation that was impossible to verify. (I jest, I jest).

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

        Its relatively easy to pump from one tank to another but nowadays it would be unusual other than on smaller, sepxiaised tankers such as those with stainless steel tanks that carry dodgy chemicals.. The tanks normally have to be washed and cleaned at sea and this involves pumping water around. Most cargo/ballast/stability control systems are relatively robust and simple.

        You are correct about design flaws, such as were common with OBOs and O/Os but these were not accepted as a problem until too late.

        Accessing a ship's cargo control system would be problematic as they are not normally connected to the outside world and neither are bridge/engine controls.

        Nowadays ships have "black boxes" so your Hollywood style blockbuster grounding could not be covered up. That is the problem the Suez Canal Authority had with the Ever Given when they tried to blame the ship. They then did a complete U-turn when they realised they had screwed up and agreed bad weather was the cause but the ship should not have entered the canal even though it wasir employees that agreed to the transit. W+nk+rs

        1. 0laf
          Facepalm

          Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

          "Accessing a ship's cargo control system would be problematic as they are not normally connected to the outside world and neither are bridge/engine controls."

          Yeeess except that most of us have run into SCADA systems that should never be connected to the outside world that have in fact been plugged into the internet in an insecure cludge to save $100 on training for a member of the crew or so some exec can keep an eye on something they should have no access to at all.

          All too often the stupid plots of 20yr ago become the stupid mangement decisions of today

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

            Difficult to connect a system to the internet when there is no connection. It isn't a SCAD system it is just a low level, stand alone computer prog simply calculating volumes and volume changes. Any connection to the outside world would be on the bridge and they are intermittent and via random satellites. Forget all the bs about GPS and AIS.

            Do you know the cost of ship/shore connections.

            1. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

              Do you know the cost of ship/shore connections.

              About $99/month? Yes I jest, you're quite right above - but give it a few years and the landscape may start to look quite different once a meaningful number of ships have always-on, high-bandwidth connections plugged into places they shouldn't be.

              1. gandalfcn Silver badge

                Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

                So you agree you were totally wrong. Why not say so?

                Yes, it mjay change, but I doubt it as mjost ships have no need for such connections. It would allow interfering busybodies to get involved, such as self opinionated, pushy IT people. Not to mention charterers and sub-charterers etc. Nether the owners no the crews want that, there are already too many people interfering. When ISMJ first became a thing many owners/managers started overriding Masters and Chief Engineers, you know, self important, pushy types, but that came to a swift halt when they were told they were liable for anything that happened and were quite possibly voiding insurance policies, statutory obligations etc. The USN was like you until a series of accidents forced the realisation that seafarers needed to be properly trained seafarers not computer jockeys. Autonomous ships are a completely different branch and are treated as such.

            2. C-Clef

              Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

              But ship to shore connections have been available via satellite for at least 20 years to my knowledge. I'm informed that tens of thousands of ships are already using this service. High bandwidth it certainly ain't, we're talking 100's of kbps only, not megabits/sec.

              I was lecturing about this technology way back in 2001 for a well known, London based satellite company. Now whether they have it connected to any on board IT systems is another thing entirely.

              1. DS999 Silver badge

                Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

                Now whether they have it connected to any on board IT systems is another thing entirely

                It only takes one shipping company that thinks it is a good thing to connect them, and believes security via obscurity or a firewall that hasn't had its software updated since the ship launched will protect them.

                1. Franco Silver badge

                  Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

                  Yep, between IPv6 and its idea that everything in the world should have a routable addresss and the proliferation of internet access satellites being launched it won't be long before admins start to think it's a good idea to be able to remote connect to everything out of laziness. it'll start off as VPNs that shouldn't be accessible outside the company network, until someone opens a firewall for something and forgets to close it again....

                2. gandalfcn Silver badge

                  Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

                  Yes, but owners don't throw money around on such things. Also, what mjost posters here fail to understand is that operations are heavily regulated by IMO and State regulations, as opposed to IT companies, meat processors, oil pipelines etc. And A.P Møller isn't the Pentagon or Microsoft.

              2. gandalfcn Silver badge

                Re: Capsizing oil tankers via software

                Yes, the connections are there (INMARSAT or similar) and used as and when required by pretty well all ships (SOLAS), which is intermittent. The connections are still quite slow and costs are high.

                Some wealthy owners have a system where data are logged on board and then transmitted once a day or so back to HQ for analysis. To hack into the few ships that do that would require knowledge as to when the ship would be transmitting, etc.

                I'm not sure as to the regime on cable ships as I haven't been near one for years, but they dig tend to communicate a lot more than most ships. Part of the job.

  4. Some IT Guy

    Hack the Planet!

    Sure it wasn't real, but it was entertaining. Loved the music.

    Any England/UK Hacker movies from the 90's? Doubt it.. :)

    The alias the bad guy used was Charlie Babbage...

    I also like the movie SNEAKERS.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Hack the Planet!

      Sneakers had Robert Redford, social engineering, cryptography, and voice ID. Hackers had costumes and Angelina Jolie... but it wasn't enough to save it at the box office.

      Any England/UK Hacker movies from the 90's? Doubt it.. :)

      Does Goldeneye count?

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Hack the Planet!

        "Does Goldeneye count?"

        Click Click

        Click Click Click

        Click Click

        Click Click Click

    2. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Hack the Planet!

      Try going back to the early 80's when Bird of Prey was on TV. This was a VERY plausible 'hacker' scenario and would have been a secret nightmare for every security force as this pre-dated almost all the automated data-gathering which most people now seem to delight in feeding their whole life story to.

    3. Kane Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Hack the Planet!

      "I also like the movie SNEAKERS."

      Welcome to Setec Astronomy!

    4. Blazde

      Re: Hack the Planet!

      "Any England/UK Hacker movies from the 90's? Doubt it.. :)"

      Not a movie but Channel 4 being hip, edgey and way ahead of their time (uuh relatively speaking that is) did a hacker docu in 2000 called Hackers In Wonderland that was quite good and basically covers late 90s material. It's available on YouTube. Big UK names in it, and inevitably a few yanks too.

      "This man [Cold Fire] was once considered one of the most dangerous criminal hackers in Britain. Not wanting to reveal his home address he met us at a local laundrette." And there's the obligatory paranoid yet understated tone set with a line that could have been uttered by Alan Partridge himself.

  5. Sparkus

    alt-anything

    can be considered era-authentic cyber-whatever............

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent movie.

    Way ahead of its time in terms of diversity and avoiding racial stereotypes.

    I've lived this movie since I first saw it in the 90s.

    Since it's the anniversary of this movie, I've tripled my RAM to celebrate. My laptop now has a killer refresh rate.

    It is not and never was a shit movie.

  7. ravenviz Silver badge

    There is this sort of internet / mobile phone zombie space around the mid 90’s to the mid 2000’s where, before, you expected no one to have any of that, and after the iPhone it sort of settles down but in between you find yourself baulking at clamshell phones and monitors with flying envelopes telling you “You got mail”! So many films are essentially ruined by the transition.

  8. DiViDeD

    Pretty Close - except for those fractal computers

    As a piece of art, they chose to display whizzbang screens full of laughably optimistic fractal patterns and faux cgi blocks and buildings to represent data, which is arguably more interesting to a general audience than watching Rami Malek typing accurate bash commands into a terminal.

    But as someone who was at least peripherally involved with the 2600 community in the late 80s and early 90s, the fashion (such as it was), patois and general manic edge was pretty much spot on how we imagined we looked to the 'danes.

    On reflection, perhaps using the likes of Bernie S, Phiber Optik and Emmanuel Goldstein to advise on the whole hacker ethos of the time was what made the movie a camp classic rather than an also ran.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Pretty Close - except for those fractal computers

      Now, if only he would make a decent adaptation of the Neuromancer trilogy...

      Coming from cyberpunk, the visualisations made sense, even though we realised they weren't real.

  9. 2460 Something
    Gimp

    I loved the film the first time I watched it, and I've watched it a couple times since. Overall, I really don't think it's that far off the mark. In real life hackers have shut down power grids, nuclear plants, banking networks .. .. and on and on. Anything that is computer controlled (and these days there is a lot more) has a potential to be hacked. Systems doesn't even have to be directly connected to the internet, resourceful (and in the case of the nuclear plant, let's be fair, most likely state sponsored) hackers will find a way.

    To top it all off, damn did I have a crush on Jolie. In fact, I'm quite tempted to dig it out and have another watch today.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cant say Ive seen the film

    Must go and find an illegal site that I can download it to play on my hacked plex

    ARGH Jim Lad...........

  11. TheProf

    Roller Skates

    Never seen Hackers but a search brings up pictures of the protagonists on roller skates. No thanks.

    It'll be one of those disappointing films like the one where students are made dead (made dead?) and brought back to life while connected to computers and the like. For science, naturally.

    I think it was called The Bus That couldn't Slow Down.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Net

    I prefer The Net (1995) as a more realistic film - multiple websites are protected from hacking by a single super system. The same people secretly hack unprotected sites to encourage them to install the system. Once installed, they have a back-door access to everyone's data. A developer/hacker finds out about the baddies and gets all her data changed to give her a criminal record so no-one believes her when she complains - computer says so, so it must be true. Goes on the run, but eventually gets them taken down.

    The back-door access, data changing stuff and command-line hacking were all pretty realistic for 25 years ago.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: The Net

      Man if only someone at solarwinds had watched that film.

    2. O RLY

      Re: The Net

      I used to put pi in the corner of the my personal website on geocities. I had intended to use it like webrings (remember those?), but ultimately just pointed it to the imdb site for The Net before removing the letter entirely. I think I deleted the website before the great geocities purge finally did.

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    What I remember...

    Got this movie as a video rental (remember that?) when it was new, watched it again a couple of years ago on one of the satellite channels.

    What I remember most was gushing over the specifications of a machine that must have been out of date by the time the film was actually released.

    "Yo. Check this out guys, this is insanely great, it's got a 28.8 BPS modem! and Active matrix, man. A million psychedelic colors. Man, baby, sweet, ooo!

    [https://sfy.ru/?script=hackers]

  14. EnviableOne Silver badge

    CRASH and BURN

    in lights in a towerblock, all ASCII art like

    CrashOverride and AcidBurn aren't the best of hacking aliases but letting all the world burn was much on the agenda of the nascent hacking community at the time

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