1990s Sci-Fi Crime Thriller Beloved By Fans, Stream Without Netflix

By Robert Scucci | Published


Filmmakers just don’t make technological crime thrillers like they used to, and 1995’s Hackers is one of those dated relics that still holds up if you ignore how stuff works. 1995 was like the Wild West of the internet. And as new frontiers were being explored on the cinematic front, we had the privilege of watching rave fashion, cyber crimes, and, of course, a healthy amount of rollerblading converge in the coolest way possible.

Streaming Hackers

And if you’re not tech-savvy, you don’t really have to worry because, at its heart, Hackers is a coming-of-age story about a group of friends getting into more trouble than they can handle.

Hackers first introduces us to an 11-year-old Dade Murphy (Johnny Lee Miller), known online by his hacker handle, “Zero Cool.” Dade gets banned from using computers and touch-tone telephones for seven years after pulling off a stunt that crashed so many computer systems that it affected the stock market.

On his 18th birthday, Dade goes back to his old ways, but with a new handle, “Crash Override.”

Motivated By Curiosity?

One thing you need to know about hacker culture, or at least hacker culture as it’s depicted in Hackers, is that most of the time they’re not necessarily trying to cause trouble.

When Dade befriends a colorful group of hackers with call names like Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie), Cereal Killer (Matthew Lillard), Lord Nikon (Laurence Mason), The Phantom Phreak (Renoly Santiago), and … Joey (Jesse Bradford), it becomes clear that they’re all motivated by curiosity.

Unfortunately for them, their curiosity often finds them on the wrong side of the law.

The Plague


The main source of conflict in Hackers becomes clear when Joey – a hacker so inexperienced that he doesn’t yet have a badass online handle – breaches into a supercomputer owned by the Ellingson Mineral Corporation.

This egregious act of internet impropriety sets off a chain of events that alerts the film’s antagonist, Eugene “The Plague” Belford (Fisher Stevens) of the security breach at his company.

The Plague works as a computer security officer at Ellingson and has plans to embezzle $25 million from the company, but only before capsizing an oil tanker to distract authorities from his fraudulent activities.

Chaos Ensues


Planning to throw the teenage group of hackers under the bus, The Plague gets the Secret Service involved so he can pull off his elaborate heist undetected.

Technical jargon aside, Hackers also operates as a teen comedy with so many nerdy one-liners that you can’t help but root for the gang.

While Dade tries to sound intimidating by saying things like “mess with the best, die like the rest,” Cereal Killer is often found quoting Ozzy Osbourne, railing on the fashion choices of various partygoers, and rattling off Orwellian conspiracy theories whenever he gets the chance.

While chaos ensues, Dade and Acid Burn playfully butt heads in a way that suggests a budding romance that will move forward with the narrative.

Critical And Commercial Failure


Upon its release, Hackers was a critical and commercial failure. Not only did this technological title fail to earn back even half of its reported budget of $20 million, it received a 33 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Surprisingly enough, Roger Ebert was a fan of Hackers, but strongly suggested that viewers suspend disbelief in regard to the film’s technical aspects in the same way one would sit back and enjoy an Indiana Jones film.

Streaming Hackers On Tubi


In other words, if you don’t take Hackers too seriously, especially given what we know about technology today, it’s a fun movie about a rag-tag group of miscreants having fun with technology and getting way over their heads in the process.

The film’s aesthetic and sense of humor have allowed it to achieve cult classic status, and it’s a must-see for anyone who’s willing to suspend disbelief and watch it without considering the context of current technological trends.

Just know that if you want to stream Hackers on Tubi, you’ll need more than a dial-up modem to avoid buffering. But once “you’re in,” you’ll want to stick around and enjoy the show.