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

'Medieval mixed with athletic wear' chic from 1995


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 with its cyber phreak aesthetics, video game visuals and mind-bending techno soundtrack. For many, it was the vibrancy of the cartoon-like, surreal costumes that gave the film its unique identity, cult status and era-defining quality that still resonates today,” burbles the London exhibition’s description.

Hackers is remembered fondly by infosec greybeards for being one of the first mainstream depictions of computer hacking culture, and by film buffs for being Angelina Jolie’s first major role. The 1995 movie didn’t do very well at the box office, but has an endearing appeal among some cyberpunks and computer nerds alike.

Plot-wise it’s best not to think too hard about it and just absorb what screenwriter Rafael Moreu served up. A group of misfit American teens who adopt comical internet nicknames (e.g. “The Phantom Phreak”) amuse themselves by digitally breaking into various Evil Bigcorp-owned computers. Clueloss cops raid houses, a US Secret Service agent becomes the target of identity theft, a laughable plot to capsize oil tankers through software becomes apparent and the protagonists briefly escape justice by taking over traffic lights in a scene that’s as pleasingly ridiculous as the Italian Job’s depiction of the same thing 25 years earlier.

Oh, and among all these cheerfully implausible plot points, one of the rollerblading teenage 'hackers' scores a date with Angelina Jolie and her pixie cut. Hackers is a cult classic because it’s so zany it’s impossible to dislike it [in the opinion of this writer – ed.].

Aficionados of the film can view the main characters’ costumes at the Horse Hospital, a former stables in north London’s artsy Bloomsbury area. The exhibition opened in early December 2020 and ran until 19th of that month. It re-opened close to mid-April and will cease on 5th June.

“Amazingly, I still regularly receive emails from fans fascinated with the costumes 25 years after it was released,” said Roger Burton, the film’s costume designer. If you too want to be fascinated by the costumes you’ll have to get a move on, however: the exhibition ends this Saturday, 6 June. ®


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