20 Movies Every Hacker Should See

Last week we did a post on five of the most well known hackers.  Several of them had stories that were intriguing enough that the entertainment industry created books and movies about them.  Wikibon doesn’t support hacking for publicity gain, but there are many fictional movies based around hackers that are quite entertaining.  Below is a list of 20 hacker-related films that we think you should add to your Netflix.  We originally were going to limit the list to five, but decided there were just too many we think you would enjoy.  We’ve also included links to Netflix Instant to help you increase your hacker cred right away, where applicable. (Click the movie title to watch)

1.  Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner is a futuristic (for its time) film about a world where humans can create replicants of themselves.  When six replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth, a special cop known as a Blade Runner must leave retirement to get them.

 

 

“I need ya, Decks. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old blade runner, I need your magic.”

 

 

 

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2. Tron (1982)

Tron is a true classic that you must see if you haven’t already (you’ve had 29 years, what’s your excuse?).  In Tron, a hacker is transported into the digital universe of “The Grid”, and must survive combat as a cyber gladiator in order to stop the villainous Master Control.  Make sure this is on your “to watch” list.

 

 

“You’re in trouble, program. Why don’t you make it easy on yourself. Who’s your user?”

 

 

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3. WarGames (1983)

WarGames is a movie about a young computer whiz kid who accidentally connects into a top secret super-computer which has complete control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia, and he innocently starts the countdown to World War 3.  An original hacker film and one that invented hacker terminology still in use today.

 

 

“Hey, I don’t believe that any system is totally secure.”

 

 

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4.  Real Genius (1985)

A young teen is accepted to a university known for its programs for geniuses and paired with his roommate on a project to develop a high-powered laser.  After they have some fun, their teacher steals their final, functional laser for a military weapon.  When this happens, they decide to get even.

 

 

“Mitch, there’s something you need to know. Compared to you, most people have the IQ of a carrot.”

 

 

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5.  Weird Science (1985)

Two unpopular teenagers desperation to be liked leads them to “create” a woman via their computer. Their living and breathing creation is a gorgeous woman, Lisa, whose purpose is to boost their confidence level by putting them into situations which require the teens to act like men.

 

 

“Making a girl. Actually making a girl. Like Frankenstein… except cuter.”

 

 

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6. Sneakers (1992)

In Sneakers, a group of security analysts are offered a job by the CIA and when they are reluctant, pressure is brought to bear by the threat to disclose the identity of their leader.  A chip exists that will allow any computer to be cracked, and organized crime will soon control it, though sudden changes in their police records suggest that it is already in use.  The film is a bit dated nowadays, but still worth the time to watch.

 

 

“The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by little ones and zeroes, little bits of data. It’s all just electrons.”

 

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7. Goldeneye (1995)

Goldeneye is a James Bond film based around a hack that intends to deploy a deadly satellite weapon.  Not only is this an action packed thriller, but a great video game was based around it as well.

 

 

“Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN.”

 

 

 

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8.  Hackers (1995)

In Hackers, a young boy is arrested for writing a computer virus and is banned from using a computer until his 18th birthday. Years later, he and his friends discover a plot to unleash a dangerous computer virus, but they must use their computer skills to find the evidence while being pursued by the Secret Service and the evil computer genius behind the virus.  Not too much of a thriller, but still worth watching to say you’ve seen it.

 

 

“We have just gotten a wake-up call from the Nintendo Generation.”

 

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9. The Net (1995)

In The Net, a software engineer decides to take her first vacation in several years.  When she’s leaving, she becomes embroiled in a web of computer espionage.  A little cliche now, but still a good one to watch if you’re a Sandra Bullock fan.

 

 

“Not a great deal if you’re a hacker.”

 

 

 

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10. Enemy of the State (1998)

A successful lawyer finds himself the target of a treacherous NSA official after receiving evidence to a politically motivated murder.  The only man that can help him is a former government operative turned surveillance expert.  This is an action/thriller you’ll be glad you watched.

 

 

“Oh, well there goes the Fourth Amendment… what’s left of it.”

 

 

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11. The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix is about a man who is your average programmer by day, but at night he becomes a malevolent hacker.  He learns from mysterious underground hackers about the real nature of his existence and his main role in the war against the controllers of it.

 

 

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.”

 

 

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12. Office Space (1999)

Hacking may not be the first thing you think of when you hear the movie Office Space, but hacking is actually a key part of the film.  In between hating their job, employees embezzle fraction of cents by planting a virus in the company’s accounting system.  A classic comedy and a must see if you haven’t already.

 

 

“Yeah, I know him. I know him! He’s my boss! He’s my unholy, disgusting pig of a boss!”

 

 

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13. Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

Pirates of Silicon Valley is a semi-humorous documentary about the men who made the world of technology what it is today, their struggles during college, the founding of their companies, and the ingenious actions they took to build up the global corporate empires of Apple Computer Corporation and Microsoft Inc.  You’ve heard of both of those companies, so watch a (somewhat flawed) story on their founding.

 

 

“Those guys think they’re revolutionaries. They’re not revolutionaries, we are.”

 

 

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14. Swordfish (2001)

In Swordfish, a covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell wants money left from a dummy corporation operation to help finance their raise-the-stakes vengeance war against international terrorism, but it’s all locked away behind super-encryption.  To get through, they bring in a convicted hacker who’s trying to stay clean to slice into the government mainframes and get the money.

 

 

“I have been told that the best crackers in the world can do this under 60 minutes but unfortunately I need someone who can do this under 60 seconds.”

 

 

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15. Antitrust (2001)

Antitrust is a film about a recent Standford graduate who goes to work as a private sector programmer.  When tragedy strikes, he learns the company isn’t what he thought.  He begins investigating the company and finds himself in the middle of several cybercrime scandals.  A great thriller and definitely worth watching.

 

 

“You’re either a one or a zero. Alive or dead.”

 

 

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16. The Italian Job (2003)

The Italian Job is a film based around robbery and hacking.  The main characters hack into traffic systems, cable TV, and banks among many other things.  The main hacker in the film even claims to be the true founder of Napster.  This movie is full of car chases, hacking, and theft.

 

 

“That’s Lyle. He’s my computer genius. You know he’s who really invented Napster?”

 

 

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17. Foolproof (2003)

Foolproof is a Canadian film about a group of friends who “virtually” rob banks, until they are blackmailed into doing a real heist.  This film is full of action and adventure and definitely worth checking out.

 

 

“It’s an impressive read: bold, yet meticulous strategies. I love the one where you tried to figure out how to pinch the Stanley Cup. It’s very… Canadian.”

 

 

 

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18.  Firewall (2006)

When the head of security’s family is taken hostage, he is commanded to steal from the large bank he works for to ensure their safety.  He then faces the demanding task of thwarting the kidnapper’s grand scheme, which makes him look guilty of embezzlement.

 

 

“So that’s the plan? You think your techie schoolboy friend can hack into my mainframe?”

 

 

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19.  Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

A New York City police detective delivers old-school justice when a massive computer attack hacker on the U.S. infrastructure threatens to shut down the entire country over Independence Day weekend.  If you like the action and adventure in the other movies in this series, you’ll enjoy watching this addition.

 

 

“I know I’m not as smart as you guys with all this computer shit. But, hey… I’m still alive, ain’t I?”

 

 

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20. Gamer (2009)

Gamer is a great movie about a future where prisoners are computer-linked to the consoled of rich game players.  The movie is full of violence, and it’s a little far-fetched, but the final scenes depict some remarkable power and hacking.

 

 

“Sometimes, they take over completely. Move you around like a robot. But that don’t work so good.”

 

 

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Recommended Reading:

The Largest Data Breaches of All Time [Infographic]



The Future of Data Protection

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  • Wheels

    My favorite line from Sneakers is “You guys would be chalk outlines without me.”

  • Dvellante

    Ocean’s 11?

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  • http://servingdata.blogspot.com Maloof Peter

    Whenever I watch a movie that’s heavy on computers, I have to switch off the techie part of my brain to get through it. For example, in Swordfish, Hugh Jackman has a gun to his temple, frantically listing files on a system, looking for a way to break in – if he can list files, isn’t he already in? I did like the movie, though.

    This didn’t work for Tron. I just couldn’t get past the idea that Jeff Bridges created a program ‘in his own image’ and ‘turned it loose’ inside the computer, where another program ‘destroyed’ it (“That was my best program”) – hello, recompile and rerun? I didn’t think Tron:Legacy was any better.

  • http://www.seocompanyseomarketing.com/ Mark waugh

    Really all of the movie are admirable to watch. I like almost every movie. Have you more about this type of movie info? 

  • Guitarplayer180

    I’m sorry, but maybe “tron” should be under a “programmer’s” list, not a hackers. The movie would probably trigger me more if I were more into memory management and hardware engineering, but I want to see movies about security and deception. Mission impossible?? duh! anyways besides that, great list. Movies like goldeneye just make me laugh (boris, “I am invincible”???), but still very fun to watch. thanks

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  • Timmytallent

    no sorrry man tron is like the hacker of hacker movies. tron move throughout a computer system.  

  • abc

    Hacker are programmer, but programmers aren’t necessarily hackers. 

  • TheGuyWhoWroteThisIsRetarded

    The guy who wrote this is a complete retard.

    TAKEDOWN SHOULD BE ON TOP OF THE LIST, AND YOU DON’T EVEN INCLUDE IT?

    Like i said, complete retard.

  • beer

    wargames comes closest (to 80ies phreaking and general hacking). it should be no. 1 – it is also posing the most relevant questions and is entertaining. — “strange game. the only way to win the game is not to play.”

  • beer

    oh. and let me add: “23” (1998) – a movie about german hackers (real!), breaking into nato systems to sell information to the russians is entertaining aswell.

  • Biffinum

    Why the Hell isnt Takedown on this list… and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo..Hackers 1995 is crap… Ur list upsets me.

  • Joe

    you can list files and not be in… At least I’ve been there.

  • Dasmond

    The Social Network (2010) should be at the top of the list…..THE TOP…..there is no other movie like that….ITS JUST AWWWWWEESSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOMMMMMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    This sucks, all the hacking in these movies are fake as fuck. stupid ass Hollywood, ruining hacking, but you really can’t blame, them, considering how hacking really is.

  • Marcus

    I haven’t watched it but… How is that a hacker movie?

  • Defalt

    exactly, being IN means being able to change something or to have control over something so yeah you can list files without being in

  • Defalt

    Tron is a hacker movie, a program doing something unexpected is a security flaw and a hacker without programming skills can’t be a hacker, he’s a script kiddy maybe since he cant make his own exploits, so hacker = intelligence + programming skills + general computer skills+ deception skills + security awareness

  • Defalt

    i forgot, networking skills, veeeeeeeery important, this list lacks i robot

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