From WW2 code-cracking capers to Dystopian future space-operas, here are the best 25 hacking movies of all time...
It was internet safety day this week, so thought we'd round up some of the best hacker films ever made.
The Matrix (1999)
Keanu Reeves stars as computer hacker Neo, who discovers that the whole world's a computer programme designed to enslave humanity. Fortunately, he can learn Kung Fu just by loading up a bit of software. If it was that easy, we'd be black belts by now.
The film that spawned a generation of would-be cyber anarchists who decided to show their individuality by wearing black leather coats and hiding moody expressions behind mirror shades.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
This iconic anime based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, follows a cyborg policewoman trying to track down the Puppet Master; a hacker who's able to manipulate people's personalities. Ghost in the Shell not only looks staggering, but being one of the first films to combine cell animation with CGI, it also raises interesting questions about the nature of identity.
The Italian Job (1969)
The cheeky 1960s crime caper, a hacking film? Yup - that iconic traffic jam in Turin is created when Charlie Croker's gang loads a new programme onto the city's traffic control computer. Nowadays, pretty much every heist film involves hacking into a computer somewhere, albeit without the assistance of Benny Hill.
David Cronenberg's 1999 sci-fi flick takes a characteristically messy, organic approach to hacking; it's set in a computer game which people connect to using biological computers. Cue the usual Croenebergian sprays of body fluid and squelchy bits, plus some cool innovations, like a gun made out of biological components that shoots teeth.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Keanu Reeves plays "the ultimate hard drive"; a courier who uses his brain to store corporate data packages. Only trouble is, he's taken on more than he can handle on his latest job, and risks psychological damage, or even death.
Based on a short story by William Gibson, founding father of cyberpunk, how could this sci-fi actioner fail? Well, when the studio heavily recut it just before release, it doomed the film to mediocre reviews and a cult following. Losing the heroin-addicted dolphin was a mistake, it turns out.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
We've included the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in our list for naming the film (OK, book) after a hacker. Who's also a girl! Righteous. Noomi Rapace plays the fierce, anti-social computer hacker Lisbeth Salander who helps journalist Mikael Blomkvist trace a serial killer in this dark and twisted thriller.
Her skills come in handy as the evidence is buried on a bunch of PCs – plus she makes off with a tidy sum in the process. David Fincher's remake was a bit pointless coming so soon after the original, but Rooney Mara made a creditable stab at playing Salander.
The Social Network (2010)
Our favourite scenes in The Social Network – last year's Facebook film – are the ones with Zuckerberg, Saverin and co sat around hacking into university databases to make Hot-or-Not style sites.
There's also snappy dialogue, the entertaining Winklevoss twins and a nice backstory about Sean Parker. All that and an impeccable Oscar-winning score from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor – although the version of In the Hall of the Mountain King in the rowing scene was director David Fincher's idea.
Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) specialises in a very specific type of security – subconscious security. Actually we lied – that's what Cobb tells his targets before he and his crack team of architects, con-men and chemists hack into people's dreams to steal information or plant false memories.
Christopher Nolan's bold dream caper strays into James Bond territory towards the end, but the world he creates is intriguing enough to forgive the plot holes – and trust us, it improves on repeat viewing.
Source Code (2011)
Hacking into the final minutes of someone else's life may not be plausible, but it made for this decent techno-thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal reliving the same train explosion over and over again as he tries to work out how to get into Michelle Monaghan's pants. Oh, and find the bomb. Part Groundhog Day, part Avatar and part Speed, but better than that sounds.
Brilliantly overblown (at one point, for instance, it is claimed that a fleet of oil tankers will capsize at the behest of a computer virus), Hackers is a fast-typing feast of illicit binary populated by people with names like Acid Burn and Cereal Killer. But will rival hackers Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie uncover the hidden code in their hearts?
There are a couple of lessons to learn from WarGames. One: it would be a bad idea for America to hand over its Cold War missile defences to the whims of an "intelligent" computer. Two: if it did, it would be a good idea if the password wasn't a name so common you'd shudder if it crossed your mind to use it for your webmail. It's not hard to see where the suspenseful hacker plot goes from there.
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