Masterminds

Bomb Rating: 

Breaking into the world's most sophisticated computer systems is easy. All you do is type something obvious like "FIND PASSWORD" or "BREAK INTO COMPUTER."

Ask any hacker: Breaking into the world's most sophisticated computer systems is easy. All you do is type something obvious like "FIND PASSWORD" or "BREAK INTO COMPUTER." Sometimes, like in this film or "Terminator 2," you simply shove a circuit board into a slot and it miraculously finds the password for you. Then once you're done fiddling around in the sophisticated computer system you can type something like "ERASE HARD DRIVE" or "MESS EVERYTHING UP," leaving the computer's sysop scratching his head. No wonder the FBI is having so many problems.

"Masterminds" is "Toy Soldiers" meets "Hackers," and since just about everyone remembers how well those two films did at the box office (if they remember them at all), the sky seems to be the limit for director Roger Christian and his crew of reality-disabled actors.

The plot is that Ralph Bentley (Patrick Stewart) takes over a school of rich kids on the same day that Ozzie (Vincent Kartheiser), a computer whiz kid, is escorting his sister to school. Ozzie gets stuck inside and, armed with a walkie-talkie, his magic decoder circuit board and his amazing systems knowledge, is the only thing standing in the way of Ralph and his dreams of successful extortion. Since Ralph is a former British Secret Service agent and all his men are loaded with automatic weapons, they naturally react by standing around screaming at each other while Ozzie thwarts their plans.

The film's list of grating moments starts with Annabelle Gurwitch, who plays Ozzie's stepmother. She spends the majority of the film standing outside the school saying things that sound like they came out of the "Beginning Screenwriter's Guide to Stepmotherspeak": "Ozzie, I'm sorry I'm not your real mother. But I love you. Save your sister. Save us all." If only someone could have saved Mr. Cranky.

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