Sneakers (1992 film)

1992 film directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Sneakers is a 1992 film that is a complex but lighthearted thriller about computers and cryptography, government and espionage, secrets and deception and betrayal.

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Written by Phil Alden Robinson, Lawrence Lasker, and Walter F. Parkes.
We could tell you what it's about. But then, of course, we'd have to kill you. taglines


  • What's wrong with this country, Marty? Money. You taught me that. Evil defense contractors had it, noble causes did not. Politicians are bought and sold like so much chattel. Our problems multiply. Pollution, crime, drugs, poverty, disease, hunger, despair; we throw gobs of money at them! The problems always get worse. Why is that? Because money's most powerful ability is to allow bad people to continue doing bad things at the expense of those who don't have it.


[Buddy Wallace and Dick Gordon reveals charges about Martin Bishop's gang. Wallace brings up Bishop himself.]
Buddy Wallace: And then, there's Martin Bishop...[looks at a folder while Martin has a blank stare. Wallace turns the folder to show it has no papers] He doesn't seem to have a past.
Martin Bishop: [Walks away] I'm sorry, but I don't work for the government.
Dick Gordon: We do. [Shows a card] National Security Agency.
Bishop: Ah. You're the guys I hear breathing on the other end of my phone.
Gordon: No, that's the FBI. We're not chartered for domestic surveillance.
Bishop: Oh, I see. You just overthrow governments. Set up friendly dictators.
Gordon: No, that's the CIA. We protect our government's communications, we try to break the other fella's codes. We're the good guys, Marty.
Bishop: Gee, I can't tell you what a relief that is...Dick.
Gordon: Change your mind, call us at this number... [gives Bishop a folded piece of paper] Mr. Brice.

Bishop: The probable level of security is very low. But if you guys don't want to take that chance just to keep me out of jail, fine, I understand, I'll do it.
Whistler: Well, Bish, I can't speak for the other guys, but I'm in it for the money, I don't care if you go to jail.
Carl: Me neither. I'm in.
Mother: Uh... could we maybe just go back to the "they might kill us" part?
Bishop: Mother, if I thought that was likely to happen, I wouldn't bring this to you. But there is a risk.
Whistler: And it pays $175,000!
Mother: I'm in.
Crease: You guys will be chalk outlines without me. All right, what do we need?

[asking each team member what they'll do with their share of the money]
Bishop: Carl?
Carl: [breathing from helium] I'd like to have a deep relationship with a beautiful woman who melts from the very first time our eyes meet.
Bishop: We're not getting paid that much, Carl.
Carl: Well, you know, someone like Liz.
Bishop: We're definitely not getting paid that much.

[Carl and Whistler try out Jannek's black box and they surprisingly break into some secure mainframes]
Liz: [upon seeing the data for the Air Traffic Control System] Oh, my God.
Mother: How is this possible?
Whistler: Cryptography systems are based on mathematical problems so complex they cannot be solved without a key.
Liz: Jannek must have figured out a way to solve those problems without the key and he hard-wired it into that chip.
Donald Crease: Turn it off.
Whistler: Anybody want to crash some passenger jets?
Crease: I said turn it off.
Bishop: Turn it off! [shuts down computer]
Carl: [contemplates] So, it's a code-breaker.
Bishop: No, it's The code-breaker. No more secrets. [leaves]

[At the gang's hideout, Crease is on the phone with a contact in the wake of discovering that Jannek was killed the night before]
Donald Crease: Don't tell me you can't do it because I know you can. And don't tell me you won't do it because I've got to have it. I need to know, and I need to know now.
Mother: Guys, that federal building's been scheduled for demolition since August. Housed the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Agriculture. Been vacant for a month.
Carl Arbogast: [checks out the Yellow Pages] The NSA never had an office in San Francisco. Their West Coast operations are out of Los Angeles.
Crease: [shocked] Oh, God. Yeah, thanks. [hangs up] Jannek's grant is from the NSA. [throws phone in disgust; to Marty] How could you be so goddamn stupid?!? Two guys show up, say they're government, and you just buy it.
Whistler: They probably were government [everybody looks at him] - just not ours.
Martin Bishop: Everybody pack up whatever you can. This place isn't safe. [gets revolver]
Mother: What are you doing?
Bishop: I'm going to a concert.

Cosmo: There I was in prison, and one day I helped some nice older gentlemen make some free telephone calls. They turned out to be... let us say, good family men.
Bishop: Organized crime?
Cosmo: Ha, don't kid yourself. It's not that organized.

Cosmo: In prison I learned that everything in this world, including money, operates not on reality...
Bishop: ...but the perception of reality.
Cosmo: Posit: people think a bank might be financially shaky.
Bishop: Consequence: people start to withdraw their money.
Cosmo: Result: pretty soon it is financially shaky.
Bishop: Conclusion: you can make banks fail.
Cosmo: Bzzt. I've already done that. Maybe you've heard about a few? Think bigger.
Bishop: Stock market?
Cosmo: Yes.
Bishop: Currency market?
Cosmo: Yes.
Bishop: Commodities market?
Cosmo: Yes.
Bishop: Small countries?
Cosmo: With luck, I might even be able to crash the whole damned system. Destroy all records of ownership. Think of it, Marty. No more rich people, no more poor people, everybody's the same, isn't that what we said we always wanted?
Bishop: Cos, you haven't gone crazy on me, have you?
Cosmo: Who else is going to change the world, Marty? Greenpeace?

[Cosmo has just forced Martin Bishop at gunpoint to give him the box]
Cosmo: You could have had the power.
Bishop: I don't want it.
Cosmo: Don't you know the places we can go with this?
Bishop: Yeah, I do. There's nobody there.
Cosmo: Exactly! The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money, it's run by little ones and zeroes, little bits of data. It's all just electrons.
Bishop: I don't care. [walks away]
Cosmo:I don't expect other people to understand this but I do expect you to understand this. We started this journey together.
Bishop: It wasn't a journey, Cos. It was a prank.
Cosmo: There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!
Bishop: If I were you, I'd destroy that thing.
Cosmo: Don't go. [aims at Bish's head as he prepares to go down the ladder] Don't go.
Bishop: You do what you have to do, Cos, but if you want to stop me, you'll have to pull the trigger. You. [leaves]

Bishop: Carl?
Carl: [to Bernard Abbot] The, uh, young lady with the Uzi, is she single?
Bishop: Uh, you know, Carl. [sets Carl aside] Carl, this is the brass ring. Now you've got to think bigger thoughts.
Carl: I just want her telephone number, that's all. Please?
Bishop: Hey Abby, how about a lunch? You can chaperon.
Bernard Abbot: No, I will not do this. [Male NSA agents smirk]
Bishop: Hey, Abby, Abby, come on, now the FBI'd give him twins-
Abbot: NO!
NSA Agent Mary: Wait a second. You can have anything you want, and you're asking for my phone number?
Carl: Yes.
NSA Agent Mary: 273-9164. Area code 415.
Carl: Thanks. I'm Carl. [offers hand]
NSA Agent Mary: [smiles while shaking Carl's hand] I'm Mary.
Abbot: I'm going to be sick. Are we done here?
Bishop: Not yet. Whistler?
Whistler: I want peace on earth and good will toward man.
Abbot: Oh, this is ridiculous.
Bishop: He's serious.
Whistler: I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Abbot: We are the United States Government! We don't do that sort of thing.
Bishop: You're just gonna have to try.
Abbot: All right, I'll see what I can do.
Whistler: Thank you very much. That's all I ask.


  • We could tell you what it's about. But then, of course, we'd have to kill you.
  • To trust can be murder.
  • A burglar, a spy, a fugitive, a delinquent, a hacker, and a piano teacher... and these are the good guys.


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