Technologies in movies

I watched The Recruit, a fast-paced and modereate-budgeted (which means 80-90% of the money goes to the star’s salary, compared to 30-40% in cases like Spider-Man2, Troy,…) movie. Al Pacino plays the disillusioned and semi-retirement CIA trainer, Colin Farrel plays the handsome, playful, and muscular computer geek (Excuse me?) who is of course recruited to join the CIA.

<Alert: here is the spoiler>

The computers in CIA headquarter, in Langley, is supposed to be fire-walled in a true sense. No disk drive is allowed, not even a printer. But a newly hired agent is double-crossed and is successfully stealing a confidential software, bit by bit. Colin Farrel, as a fellow trainee in CIA newcomer camp, has a missin to follow her up (she is Corin’s love interest – that’s part of the undercover tactics) and to find out how she manage to do it, and whom she is working with.

So how does she takes the information out? The answer: By using the USB memory key and hiding it inside the Starbucks stainless steel mug.

Here is one pitfall about showing off the latest technology (at the time of production) in the movie: It gets old so quickly. We now all know all the big companies in Japan and Korea, Toyota, Samsung, Honda,… prohibits bringing in and out ANY type of portable memory device in their facilities. Toyota bans not only USB memory key, but also email attachment. Samsung says NO to any kind of camera or memory card enhanced mobile phone (which they are probably the largest producer in the world).

So they can take out the information from the central server in CIA, by sticking a tiny memory device in the PC? Couldn’t they come up with a better plot? Or did the above mentioned big companies all watched this movie and realized the risk?

Lesson: When you use technology as a vital part of the movie, try to rely either on old-fashioned or never-seen-before. Don’t use the cutting-edge. The Matrix mixes the old and the future in a beautiful manner (the former: dial-up telephone, the latter: everything about the world of Matrix).

I still remember one scene from a Japanese movie ‘Marusa no Onna (A taxing woman)’ made about 15 years ago. The officers from tax bureaus proudly showed their new telephone which allows them to and it was proudly shown in the movie. That was considered ‘cool’ (in Japanese Engrish, ‘trendy’) at the time. 10 years later it was a joke, and 15 years later now it is a valuable record of the history of modern cellphone development.