This mixture of dramatized documentary and talking heads tackles a very big subject but reduces it to a small screen current affairs format. The story of “Electron.” a young Melbourne computer hacker and his colorful career during the 1980s, pic unfolds via re-enactments and numerous interviews with investigators, both in Australia and the U.S. The material is extremely interesting, but Kevin Anderson’s film is not nearly as gripping or as detailed as the intriguing content warrants.
Actor Dan Spielman plays “Electron,” whose real words, taken from interviews and police surveillance records, are used for dialogue. After his mother’s death, the suburban nerd began to spend 18 hours a day at his computer, linking up with other local hackers and eventually becoming indirectly involved with espionage in East Germany and, the authorities suspected, with attacking NASA computers with a worm on the eve of a space probe. Author Suelette Dreyfus (“Underground”), the pic’s associate producer, comments on why Melbourne became the capital of the international hacking community. A once-over-easy attempt to explore a challenging subject, “Hackers” is fine for undemanding TV slots, but less effective as festival fare. Technically, it’s tops.