Movies about cyber hacking are in a niche genre. There aren’t that many out there and, surprisingly, many were made well before platforms like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were part of the pop culture vernacular (and ate up all of our free time). Hacking has been a fascination of Hollywood for over 35 years; during those three-plus decades, 10 films have stood out as exceptionally entertaining in their takes on this particular form of cybercrime. Hopefully, you won’t have to hack into any movie databases to enjoy these fine flicks.
Cover Photo: United Artists
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Matthew Broderick stars as a precocious high school senior who tries to hack a video game website and unknowingly stumbles into the War Operation Plan Response (WOPR), a system that helps the U.S. military predict outcomes of nuclear war. Thinking it’s still a game, he pits U.S. and Russia against one another, only later realizing he’s on the brink of starting WWIII and must reverse course before his life – and everyone else’s – blows up.
Hacker Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller) turns 18 and is finally allowed to use a computer again after a long legal ban due to criminal activity in his youth. He moves to New York and makes friends with a group of hackers (including a love interest played by Angelina Jolie), with whom he soon discovers a scheme by evildoer The Plague to frame the group for a dangerous computer virus.
The FBI and CIA recruit a hacker (Chris Hemsworth) doing time and offer to furlough his sentence so he can help them catch a cybercrime network committing terrorist acts around the globe in this Michael Mann thriller.
Former hacker and current cybersecurity expert Martin Bishop (Robert Redford) is blackmailed by NSA agents into snatching a black box that serves as a universal code breaker. While the job seems simple, it soon spins out of control and loyalties are no longer what they once seemed. This fim’s stellar cast includes Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, and River Phoenix.
'The Net' (1995)
Hard to believe that a ‘90s era movie was the only one on this list to feature a female lead, but then again,
The Net was well ahead of its time. Sandra Bullock stars as Angela Bennett, a techy recluse who finds herself caught in a high-stakes game of cyberespionage after the death of a friend.
Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) was once imprisoned for hacking an FBI program that allowed the government to snoop on citizens’ emails. Now, he’s being recruited by Ginger (Halle Berry) and Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) to break into an encrypted system and steal government funds to wage war against worldwide terrorism.
'Live Free or Die Hard' (2007)
John McClane (Bruce Willis), your favorite New York City police detective, is back in this action film that features Justin Long as a computer hacker and Timothy Olyphant as a cyberterrorist.
'Open Windows' (2014)
Fanboy Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) wins a dinner with his celebrity obsession Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). After a mysterious cancellation phone call from a man named Chord, Nick receives access to Jill’s cell phone, allowing him to witness the most private moments of her life. This thriller doubles as social commentary about how much access we expect to have to famous people – and how much access others have to us via technology.
Photo: Apaches Entertainment
Saved by the Bell alum Skeet Ulrich stars in this thriller about the real-life takedown of world famous (and FBI most wanted) hacker Kevin Mitnick, who broke into the systems of over 40 corporations. Photo: Dimension Films
'Zero Days' (2016)
Acclaimed documentary maker Alex Gibney examines the Stuxnet computer virus, which was developed by the U.S. with Israel to wreak havoc on an Iranian nuclear facility.
Photo: Showtime Documentary Films