Sneakers (1992): Phil Alden Robinson’s Comedy Caper–Sidney Poitier (Oldest Living Oscar Winner) Tribute

Sidney Poitier, the great actor and popular star, turned 94 on February 20.  As such, he is now the oldest living Oscar winner.
As one of the first African-American film stars, Poitier boasts an almost seven-decade career, defined by several historical moments and iconic performances.
As a celebratory tribute, here are some of Poitier’s greatest roles.  We start with the lesser known movie, Sneakers, in 1992.

Phil Alden Robinson directed Sneakers, a comedy caper film, written by him, Walter Parkes, and Lawrence Lasker.

The ensemble-driven movie features Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn.

Back in 1969, students Martin Brice and Cosmo are sneakers who hack into computer networks using university equipment, to redistribute funds to various liberal causes. The police burst in and arrest Cosmo while Martin is out getting pizza; Martin becomes a fugitive.

Cut to present-day San Francisco, where Martin, now called Martin Bishop, heads a security specialists team. The crew includes Donald Crease, a former CIA officer and family man; Darren “Mother” Roskow, a conspiracy theorist and electronics technician; Carl Arbogast, a young hacking genius; and Irwin “Whistler” Emery, a blind phone phreak.

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

Poitier and the rest play former spies working as security consultants. The crew inadvertently get caught up in a web of deception involving a former associate (Ben Kingsley) when they’re tasked with the high stakes retrieval of a powerful piece of government equipment.

Playing Donald Crease as an aging former CIA agent and the voice of reason, Poitier showed that he is comfortable making lighter fare.

While the plot was thin, and disqualified the movie from being a thriller, some of the dialogue was witty and the tone was cheerfully light.

A throwback to Hollywood films of the 1970s, Sneakers was conceived (by the writers’ own admission) at least a decade before the movie was finally made.

The text relies too much on cliches of the genre, sort of recycled goods, but the director gave it a fast tempo and imbued it with a breezy, jokey humor that almost made up for the shortcomings in the writing department.

Despite mixed reviews, Sneakers was a box office success, grossing over $105.2 million worldwide.