an appreciation of the best sequences in: sneakers

My voice is my passport…

A quote attributed to filmmaker Howard Hawks contains the assertion that the secret to a good movie is that it contains “three great scenes and no bad ones.”

By that measure, 1992’s Sneakers is not just a good movie but among the greatest of all time. To prove that point, here are five of the best sequences in the film, written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson and starring Robert Redford, Mary McConnell, Sidney Portier, Ben Kingsley, David Straitharn, Dan Ackroyd and River Phoenix.

Bishop becomes an honorary blind person

The back and forth between Redford and Straitharn here is remarkable as Bishop, with Whistler’s help, realizes he remembers more details than he originally thought.

Calling Mr. Abbott

It’s the countdown as well as the visuals of the connections being made that adds substantial tension to what in other movies would be a standard scene of the good guys trying to get more information from an unseen character.

Figuring out the black box

It’s not just the giddiness of a bunch of hackers figuring out a new toy, it’s that moment where Whistler’s glasses reflect a sudden flood of data indicating they’ve finally made the right connection.

Posit / Consequence / Result / Conclusion

The reunion of Bishop and Cosmo is the midpoint highlight, the moment the first half of the story has been building toward and it doesn’t disappoint, especially not since it finally gives Redford and Kingsley an opportunity to play off each other.

Breaking into the office

Redford doesn’t get enough credit for being an incredible comedic talent, but he is, and his side of the conversation about how to defeat an electric keypad on an office door proves that definitively.

Of course this is just a partial list. The movie is filled with top-notch 2-3 minute sequences filled with humor, tension and music, the latter composed by James Horner with appearances by Branford Marsalis. It starts with the opening flashback of a young Martin and Cosmo, thankfully made before studios discovered the technology to de-age actors.

You can find the movie on most rental services as well as HBO Max and, I presume, your local library.

Operation Finale – Marketing Recap

The story of bringing a notorious Nazi leader to justice forms the core of the marketing for OPERATION FINALE.

operation finale poster 1I don’t go into it too deeply in my THR-hosted recap of the movie’s marketing, but if Operation Finale were to open up a whole new wave of “let’s hunt Nazi” movies, books, TV shows and other media to show how repugnant this movement and its perpetrators were – and are – I’d be down with that.

Online and Social

The best part of the otherwise-paltry official website is the collection of videos on the site, many of which seem to be unlisted on MGM’s YouTube channel. So in addition to the trailers and featurettes you’ll be able to watch all kinds of TV and other commercials. There are also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Media and Publicity

Director Chris Weitz and members of the cast spoke at the movie’s premiere about the timeliness of the story and other aspects of the film.

Isaac was interviewed about the film and spoke about how it was a learning process for him, how he collaborated with Weitz in his role as a producer and how he’s disturbed by how some unpleasant philosophies similar to what’s shown in the movie are on the rise again.

Costar Joe Alwyn spoke about why he agreed to play Eichmann’s son.

Overall

Yep, let’s do this. I’m all for “bring Nazis to justice” movies since it’s something we could use a steady dose of to remind us just how hard so many people fought to settle this debate generations ago.

More seriously, with such a casual approach to the way Nazi-adjacent philosophies and rhetoric are thrown around by some these days, there’s a lesson to be learned here about how not that long ago heaven and earth were moved to bring those responsible for the terrors of the Holocaust to justice. If this movie can serve as that lesson, so much the better.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Isaac and Kingsley both share their thoughts on making the film here, including Kingsley remembering a conversation he had years ago with famed Nazi hunter Elie Wiesel. He also spoke about the way he approached such a difficult role and how his work on Schindler’s List helped in many ways.

Isaac and director Chris Weitz spoke more about the movie and its story and the challenges of making the movie here.

A new poster continues the “picture within a picture” theme with a photo of the planning of Eichmann’s capture within a photo of Kingsley as Eichmann.