Bullets trump paint guns when computer hackers are stalked by murderous federal agents in HOSTILE INTENT, a straight-to-video production that ranks with ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998) in terms of anti-government paranoia.
Computer specialist Mike Cleary (Rob Lowe) has spent two years and gone deep into debt to perfect a crack-proof information shield, which he hopes will counter a new chip designed to give the government access into everyone's computers. His development team likes to relax on weekends in the woods
playing wargames, and Mike decides to join them when the competition will be headed by Gordon (Ronn Sarosiak), his former employer, who sold a system Mike developed to the government.
As the game progresses, members of both teams are killed, shot with real guns. Dunnel (Gerry Quigley), one of Mike's workers, reveals that he has been getting money from federal agents who want the program, not realizing that they would kill to get it. The survivors join with local survivalist
Bear (John Savage) to escape the feds, led by Adams (James Kidnie), who continue to pick them off. Mike uses his portable computer equipment to scramble the feds' satellite surveillance of them, and to trick them into killing a few of their own. Mike and Bear escape into the latter's underground
bunker, where Mike plants his program on the Internet so that anyone can get it for free. Adams is killed in a final explosion, and Mike and Bear hit the road, fugitives from the government.
HOSTILE INTENT might have had more impact had it spent less time on action and more with the issues of the government's steadily growing surveillance capabilities. Instead, it starts on the assumption that viewers have a rabid suspicion and hatred of the government, which is (at least at this
level) rather a lot to assume. That element aside, this is perfunctory fare, with most of the film devoted to members of the two teams being stalked and killed by unseen government killers, as if the country were being run by a coalition of Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers. There's too little of
ace hacker Mike turning the tables, and too much that will go over the heads of the non- computer literate, who will be left with little to ponder aside from why co-star John Savage always looks so irate. (Violence, profanity.)
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