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Forget Blackhat, These Are The Best Hacker Movies Ever
Hacker movies aren’t exactly known for their realism, but when Michael Mann’s Blackhat was released in theatres last week we were promised a new kind of cybercrime thriller. This was a movie that was going to dispose of Hollywood razzmatazz and offer an insight into a criminal underworld. It was a movie that wanted to reinvent a micro-genre that more or less died with the millennium bug. Perhaps inevitably, then, it’s proved to be the first major flop of 2015.
Starring Avenger Chris Hemsworth and backed by a confident $70 million budget, Blackhat grossed just $4.4 million on its opening weekend. It’s dismal commercial performance can be partly credited to poor timing – released bang in the middle of Oscars season – but it hasn’t fared well with critics either, averaging just 31% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Whichever way you slice it, then, the message is loud and clear – moviegoers aren’t looking for cybercrime realism, they want escape. With that in mind, what are the best hacker movies to watch instead?
5. eXistenZ (1999)
Virtual reality may be the next big thing in gaming, but back in 1999 the technology was something to be afraid of. Playing on these pre-millennium fears, David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ stars Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who must hack into their own video game as fiction and reality collide with horrific consequences.
4. Sneakers (1992)
Robert Redford stars as Martin Brice, an illegal hacker-turned-good who must uses his computing knowledge to assist the NSA. With just the right balance of humour, Sneakers manages to be entertain while navigating a tricky plot. Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley and Sidney Poitier complete an all-star cast.
3. Tron (1982)
Tron will be immortalised for its iconic lightcycles and gladiatorial battles, but the movies’s protagonist Kevin Flynn is actually a computer programmer. Brilliantly played by Jeff Bridges, Flynn must hack into the ‘mainframe’ of his former employer to stop its villainous Master Control Program. Tron is a cult classic and deservedly so, but do yourself a favour and skip the sequel.
2. WarGames (1983)
One of the earliest and best hacker movies, WarGames is the improbable story of a young Matthew Broderick trying to download computer games, but accidentally cracking the security of the US military’s central computer system. His actions result in a nuclear missile scare and threaten to start World War III.
1. The Matrix (1999)
No list of hacker movies would be complete without The Matrix, which was groundbreaking for both its visual effects and ambition. On discovering that life itself is actually a computer programme designed to enslave humanity, Neo – memorably played by Keanu Reeves – jumps in and out of reality, learning Kung-Fu and entering into battle with a gang of identical evil agents. Unrealistic? Yes, but after watching you may begin to question your very existence.
Did we miss your favourite? Let us know what you’d include in the comments below.