Further establishing the trend towards Hollywood retreating from the new intellectual property business, word came recently that US network NBC are looking to remake the 1992 hacker drama Sneakers. While most remakes/screen adaptations are usually creatively bankrupt, starting at the decision to remake a property rather than having a story that could only be told using said property, the Sneakers adaptation actually has some promise. The time has never been a better time for a Sneakers remake.
The original Sneakers movie, much like the world of hacking generally, was rooted in a sense of rebellion. The film, which makes a point of introducing its protagonist as a counter-cultural 60's rebel, starred Robert Redford - a politically active actor who was a figurehead for the rising youth, boomer culture that shook up the status quo. The film then explored the sins of the past with as middle-aged boomers used modern day surveillance and computer technology to stop a former colleague with nefarious intentions.
In the same way that Sneakers dealt with early computer pioneers in their professional twilight years, a modern-day Sneakers TV series can explore that next generation. The late 80s/early 90s early Internet pioneers who are now the elder statesmen of the industry. Less Robert Redford-types and more a John Cusack or Matthew Broderick mould of actor - anti-authority from back in the day, but a little more grey and round-in-the-middle today.
While we've seen countless films and TV shows tackle hacker-focused narratives in the past, what made Sneakers unique was that it didn't feature a young protagonist seeking to take on a larger, older, more powerful system. As clever as current critical darling Mr Robot may be, its protagonist/antagonist relationship (in this instance, it's Elliot vs the globally powerful corporation E Corp) is rooted in a dynamic that is a common genre convention. Sneakers played it a little differently with battle-worn idealists facing off.
The narrative ideals of youth vs the establishment is a by-product of Redford's time. Modern day youth have been beaten by an oppressive establishment. They occupied Wall Street and they didn't win. Elliot vs E Corp feels like a fantasy in the way that E Corp vs a rival conglomerate doesn't.
And from a technological perspective, what more perfect-a-time is there to explore that than right now. Internet connected devices have never been more broadly available and, well, connected. And, thus, concerning.
This past weekend many American and European web users were unable to access globally dominant services like Twitter, Reddit, Spotify, and Github. The web services had fallen victim to a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on a DNS server that they all shared. Noteworthy in the attack was that the 'attacking' devices sending requests to the server, eventually overwhelming it due to the volume of requests, were largely people's internet-connected devices (such as webcams, DVR's, and light bulbs) that had been taken over by the attacker.
We all have these devices in our homes. Devices that can now be remotely taken over and used against us or others is considerable.
The husband/wife producing team of Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will oversee the new series, part of a first-look deal having served as producers on the original film (which was also co-written by Parkes). If the two of them can steer the property into a series that encapsulates the spirit of the original, a Sneakers remake could work.
A Sneakers remake? Bring it on.