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The 5 Best Hacker Movies of All Time

Since Elephate in the Room’s special guest this week is renowned security expert and hacker Robert “RSnake” Hansen, I thought this would be the perfect time to look at the 5 Best Hacker Movies of All Time.

Let’s get started… 

5. THE NET (1995)

A reclusive systems analyst’s (Sandra Bullock) whole life is destroyed by evil hackers when she stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy that makes no sense at all.

You probably want to stop reading right now. This is a list of “The 5 Best Hacker Movies of All Time” and I’m starting with The Net?

Look, I’m not going to pretend that this movie is good. It’s terrible. But it’s a fantastic look at how we viewed the Internet back in the days when your parents could knock you offline by simply picking up any phone in the house.

The joy in watching this movie is seeing what fears people had about the Internet almost 25 years ago. Luckily for us, we live in a better reality where “the net” hasn’t completely taken over our lives and hasn’t turned humans into isolated hate monsters arguing over Disney movies all day long.   

Right?

4. HACKERS (1995)

A group of high school hackers (Angelina Jolie, Jonny Lee Miller and more) must work together to stop a dangerous computer virus from being unleashed. In order to save the day, they’ll need to avoid an evil mastermind, the Secret Service, and questionable fashion choices.

In many ways, Hackers is the movie that established the cinematic tropes that would be used for whenever a hacker is onscreen for decades to come. Wearing a cool pair of shades to reflect your computer screen. Typing insanely fast. Unrealistic visualizations of what’s happening in the computers. Poor expositional dialogue.

This scene from Hackers checks off almost all of those aforementioned tropes:   

The movie’s a lot of fun, provided you don’t think about it too much.

3. GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995)

In the not-so distant future, cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi is on the trail of the Puppet Master, a criminal who hacks into the brains of cyborgs. As the hunt continues, it becomes unclear who is hunting who, and a conspiracy is revealed that will change Kusanagi forever.

I am, of course, writing about the original Japanese anime version based on Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same name, and not 2017’s problematic American remake.

As with a lot of cutting-edge movies like Ghost in the Shell, its influence on other movies was so great (The Matrix, A.I., Ex Machina, and more) that the original source feels pale by comparison. But if you saw this movie in cinemas when it came out, it was so mind-blowing and ahead of its time that it practically knocked the wind out of you.

This one is definitely worth a revisit.

2. WARGAMES (1983)

When a young hacker (Matthew Broderick) accidentally accesses a US military supercomputer believing it to be a game, he unknowingly begins the countdown to World War III. Now it’s a race against time to stop a computer with complete access to the US’s nuclear arsenal from winning the game.

Sure it’s dated, but this movie is still great.

And more importantly, this is the movie that brought hacking into the pop culture mainstream and would inevitably inspire a whole generation of hackers. In fact, the movie even inspired then-President Ronald Reagan to enact the very first Presidential directive related to computer security.

(Luckily Reagan’s Presidential directive on banning mogwais after viewing Gremlins a year later was eventually overturned.)

1. SNEAKERS (1992)

Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) and his eclectic group of security system experts are blackmailed by the NSA to recover a secret black box. Before they know it, they’re trapped in a world of lies, double-crosses, and murder as the team struggles to stay one step ahead of their enemies while Bishop is confronted by a ghost from his past.

First off, the cast is amazing. Just look at the picture above if you don’t believe me. And that’s not even counting Mary McDonnell and Ben Kingsley! Secondly, it’s just fun from top to bottom; from the story to the direction to the incredible chemistry of the cast. 

Sneakers is an underrated classic and absolutely deserves to be #1 on this list no matter what a real-life hacker says. 

Speaking of which, in our Elephate in the Room interview with Robert Hansen, we asked him to choose between WarGames and Sneakers in our Lightning Round.

Did he choose the right answer? Listen and find out below:

 

 

And if you like what you’re hearing, you can listen to and subscribe to additional episodes of Elephate in the Room on iTunesStitcherRSS and here.

Published
  • 02 August 2018
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