Sneakers with River Phoenix: Collector’s Edition DVD

Stars: Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, David Strathairn, Timothy Busfield, Eddie Jones, Donal Logue, Stephen Tobolowsky and James Earl Jones

Plot: An eccentric group of corporate security experts (Poitier, Aykroyd, Phoenix, Strathairn,) with a wanted ’70s radical (Redford) as their leader get in over their heads when they agree to commandeer some potentially dangerous hardware on behalf of a government agency.

Features: Widescreen presentation; Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Phil Alden Robinson; a Making-Of Documentary: “The Making of Sneakers“; and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Bonus: This was one of the last films to feature the unbelievably talented River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose on October 31, 1993, roughly a month or so after the film was released in theaters. He was set to play “the Reporter” in Neil Jordan’s adaptation of the Anne Rice novel, Interview With A Vampire, but was replaced at the last minute by Christian Slater. Sneakers also marked the third film collaboration between Mary McDonnell and David Strathairn; the two others being films written and directed by John Sayles (Matewan and Passion Fish). Writer/director Phil Alden Robinson has been quoted as saying that Sneakers was a project with a long gestation period and that if it hadn’t been made he’d still be fine-tuning the script until he could get it made.

Final Word: Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) Sneakers is a slightly dated, yet engrossing and humorous thriller about computers, cryptography, espionage, secrets, deception and betrayal. An industrious person could make the argument that this little-known gem – that came and went from theaters without much fanfare in the fall of 1993 – was a sign of things to come! Five techno savvy guys, led by Redford, who has been wanted by the feds since the early 1970s, are called upon to recover a black box that contains an array of computer chips that allow any computer or program to be cracked.

Once it comes to light that more individuals are after this box than they could have anticipated and will stop at nothing to get it, they pool their considerable talents in order to save the day. Great ensemble work from a totally game cast, including McDonnell as Redford’s former flame who goes along for the wild ride and Kingsley as a former ally of Redford’s who proves to be the gang’s most ruthless opponent.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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