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Headscratchers / Sneakers

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  • Ummmm.... why is it possible for Bishop and co to blackmail Mr. Abbot at the end of the movie? Abbot has the guys with guns and the infrastructure to cover up anything he does to them. I get that they don't *have* to shoot the gang, but they can rather than let them blab to the world about the NSA's new toy. Certainly the situation is nothing approaching "having the NSA by the balls". As Crease pointed out earlier - there isn't a government on Earth that wouldn't kill them all for that thing. The NSA is exempt.... why?
    • Because in this movie, our government doesn't kill civilians. When Martin questions Crease about that very statement earlier in the film — "You said it last night, there isn't a government on earth that wouldn't kill for that thing" — Crease emphatically adds, "Not ours!" And Crease should know where the US draws the line; he's a CIA veteran.
    • I wouldn't think Abbot can cover up just anything. The good guys seem genre savvy enough that their first act would be to dig up enough dirt about NSA and other government organizations to cause much more trouble than they are worth and secret that information away with a "in case anything happens to us" public release clause. They would have the credibility and connections to do that too, being a security enterprise with a good track record and a former CIA operative on board. It's also worth remembering the time this film came out: 1992 was right in the aftermath of the fall of communism where NSA and CIA were trying to maintain justifications for their existence with the one "big enemy" gone. A bigger problem in my opinion would be what stops Cosmo from coming to retake the black box with any means necessary.
  • Everyone's nickname I can sort of understand, except for Mother's. Crease is former CIA, so he is always very by-the-book, like a suit crease. Whistler has the best ears in the business, and so could probably hear soft things like whistling. Bish is short for Bishop, Bishop's last name. So why is Mother called Mother? He's not exactly the Team Mom of the group. Why does he have that as a nick name?
    • A possible influence for the name: In the TV series The Avengers, the head of the nebulous spy agency that employs Steed is codenamed "Mother".
    • Or likely a nod to James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA's counterintelligence staff throughout a good chunk of the Cold War. "Mother" was the best-known of his nicknames. While singularly capable at his work, his paranoia that there was a mole in the agency was legendary.
    • Whistler is probably a reference to Joe Engressia, who was born blind, had perfect pitch and accidentally discovered as a child that whistling at certain pitches into the phone would cause the line to switch. He was also nicknamed "Whistler" for this.
  • How did Bishop know the spelling of "Setec", given that he'd only heard the name mentioned once and hadn't seen it in writing?
    • Presumably it's written on the fax sheet Dick Gordon hands him as they're discussing the project. Gordon says their information comes from that fax, which they intercepted.
  • How did Whistler know that the black box/answering machine on Dr. Janek's desk was between the pencil jar and the lamp? Sure, Bishop described the contents of the desk as "telephone, lamp, answering machine, a jar of pencils," but it's a pretty big leap to assume that they were arranged in the exact order he listed them.

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