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15 Movies About Hackers You Should Try Next

As personal computers became commonplace in the 1980s, a new subgenre of film developed. Computers had played important parts in science fiction stories for a long time, but once computers became prevalent in everyday society, tales with computer terminology and technology at their centers felt closer to reality. Suddenly we had films about ordinary people whose specialized knowledge puts them at the forefront of action movies, techno-thrillers, espionage adventures, and heist films.

As computer technology became enmeshed with the average person's normal experiences, tech-savvy people became more in demand, and more frequently represented as protagonists in complex storylines revolving around technology. Movies about hackers have grown in popularity over the years, while hackers have become mainstay archetypal figures in multiple genres.

We've put together a list of movies about hackers you should check out, from groundbreaking classics to pop-cultural curiosities. Some of these movies explore political themes like activism and civil disobedience, others are inspired by real events, and a few delve into pure science fiction that addresses the nature of our reality and the essence of what makes us human.


When former software engineer and current arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) tries to hack into the mainframe of his old employer ENCOM to prove the company stole his work, he is transported into the digital realm and forced to compete in games by the Master Control Program. As Kevin tries to escape, digital programs that take the form of their human designers aid his efforts. Today, "Tron" is a sci-fi cult classic, despite the only moderate financial success of its 1982 theatrical run.

The film managed to earn back its $17 million budget, staying in theaters for an average run of five and a half weeks. While "Tron" has not always been a critical favorite — in fact, L.A. Weekly once compared its groundbreaking special effects to makeup on a lifeless body – it's nevertheless considered a landmark film. If you think of yourself a techno-geek and a sci-fi fan, "Tron" is required viewing. The "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates a high likelihood of enjoying this retro adventure.


If you like techno-thrillers about hackers and you haven't seen "WarGames" yet, you need to rectify this situation immediately. The classic 1983 Cold War-era film stars Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. 

David (Broderick) is a computer wiz who wants to play a few video games before they hit the market. When he hacks into a computer system looking for the games, he accidentally kicks off a potential nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Once David realizes he's made a huge mistake, he works with the Pentagon to prevent World War III.

The experience of watching "WarGames" back in the '80s, when nuclear annihilation felt like a more immediate threat, probably resonated a little differently than it might today. But "WarGames" is still an exciting techno-thriller and teen drama that feels fresh after all these years. "WarGames" also articulated cultural anxieties about artificial intelligence's capacity to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth a year before 1984's "The Terminator." The ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for "WarGames" are excellent, suggesting you should totally check out this foundational hacker movie.

Ghost in the Shell

This anime genre staple is about a machine-human hybrid referred to as Major who, along with her partner Batou, hunts down a hacker known as the Puppet Master. Major and Batou work for Section 9, a specialized law-enforcement unit dedicated to fighting cyber-crimes and terrorism. In the world of "Ghost in the Shell," humans and cyborgs alike can link their minds directly to the 'net, leaving everyone vulnerable to hacking.

"GitS" became wildly influential pretty much instantly upon its 1995 release. Elements of "GitS" clearly inspired the Wachowski sisters' vision for "The Matrix," as well as a lot of the imagery — particularly the opening credits — of HBO's "Westworld." Like "GitS," both "The Matrix" franchise and the modern "Westworld" series explore the philosophical questions of what makes us sentient and human, and if it is possible for a cyborg to have a soul.

A franchise in its own right with numerous sequels and spin-offs, "GitS" came before "The Matrix" or "Westworld," but some of the themes introduced in "GitS" also appear in 1982's cyberpunk standard-setter "Blade Runner." "GitS" is a thought-provoking and must-see movie for fans of sci-fi and anime. If we haven't convinced you to check it out, the nearly perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes could persuade you.


When "Hackers" hit theaters back in 1995, it was a brutal box-office bomb. Critics hated the movie at the time, and as we can tell by the "Hackers" score on Rotten Tomatoes, their minds haven't changed much. But "Hackers" has since become a cult favorite, as you might surmise from its much more respectable Rotten Tomatoes audience score. 

That's not to say the film is good, necessarily. But "Hackers" is an epic time capsule and love letter to the strange teenage outcasts of the '90s. The bad guy played by Fisher Stevens is absolutely ridiculous, and so are the outfits of the soon-to-be famous young cast who, because they very much exist in the '90s, rollerblade around Manhattan and hook their laptops up to payphones to hack complex systems.

"Hackers" doesn't take itself too seriously and plays with the trope of the witless teenager in over their head that's at the forefront of "WarGames." While movies about hackers had mostly been about men and boys up to this point, Angelina Jolie's character Kate, aka Acid Burn, is a master hacker on the same level as Jonny Lee Miller's protagonist Dade, aka Crash Override. What's more, Kate's audacious and confident instead of stereotypically nerdy and awkward. This was a refreshing change of pace in the '90s and helps the movie hold up today.

Office Space

"Office Space" might not be the first film that pops to mind when you think about hackers, but it's definitely the funniest hacking-related film out there. A relatively low-budget satire about corporate America, "Office Space" depicts the mind-numbing rat race through the eyes of computer programmer Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston). When his company brings in efficiency experts for "restructuring," Peter and a pair of other disgruntled employees — Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) — stick it to the man by uploading a hypothetically undetectable embezzlement program into the company's financial software. What could go wrong?  

The movie flopped pretty hard when it hit theaters in 1999 but has since developed a rabid cult following. If you've ever had to wear an embarrassing uniform at work, you should relate to the plight of Joanna (Jennifer Aniston). At her restaurant job, Joanna must wear an increasing number of tacky buttons — or "pieces of flair" — to keep her manager happy. If you've ever worked a job that involved making a lot of copies, the scene where Peter, Michael, and Samir take a baseball bat to the office printer should put a smile on your face. 

If you still haven't seen "Office Space," we implore you to watch it asap. The outstanding audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes should be enough to convince you.

The Matrix

Any list devoted to films about hackers would be incomplete without "The Matrix." The sci-fi juggernaut stars Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, a hacker and mild-mannered computer programmer. With the writer-director sister team of Lilly and Lana Wachowski at the helm, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving co-star in this essential film. The special effects and visual aesthetics were certainly groundbreaking when "The Matrix" dropped at the end of the millennium in 1999, and the story remains thought provoking.

"The Matrix" invites conversations about the nature of our reality. Over the years, the movie has accidentally encouraged some folks to think we literally live in a simulated reality, while others see Eastern philosophy — specifically fables about reaching enlightenment, and then helping others awaken — represented in Neo's journey. 

If you haven't seen this film in years, you might be surprised by how well it stands up to the test of time. A winner of multiple technical awards at the Oscars, "The Matrix" remains a visually dazzling experience. If you haven't seen "The Matrix," what exactly have you been doing all this time? This film is a foundational production for fans of sci-fi.


A nonfiction book of the same name inspired 2000's "Takedown." The film follows Kevin Mitnick (Skeet Ulrich), a computer hacker who sees himself as a techno-warrior for the freedom of information. In his mind, he's a white-hat hacker motivated by curiosity and political idealism. But authorities have a different perspective — they see Mitnick as a subversive criminal. Federal agents bring cyber-security consultant Tsutomu Shimomura (Russell Wong) into the investigation to help track and apprehend Mitnick, which results in a battle of wits and egos between two titans of digital espionage.

It isn't a magnificent film, but it isn't bad at all by the standards of similarly distributed straight-to-DVD films of the era. However, while the story is based in real-world events, the accuracy of the film and the book it's based on are both points of contention. Author Jonathan Littman — who published a different account of the FBI's pursuit of Mitnick called "The Fugitive Game — Online with Kevin Mitnick" — sued Miramax and Disney for copyright infringement in 2000, claiming the film "Takedown" lifts from his book without permission or giving credit, as Wired reports.


"Swordfish" is a 2001 blend of an action movie and a techno-thriller. In this picture, Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) is a CIA operative heading up a covert counter-terrorism unit who decides to steal funds from his own government to finance his operations.

Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry) recruits Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), an elite hacker on parole, to breach a U.S. Department of Defense server, install a worm, and steal billions from a government slush fund. After agreeing to the job, Stanley realizes he's being followed by the FBI agent who originally arrested him, J.T. Roberts (Don Cheadle). Things get interesting and messy when the CIA learns multiple other government organizations are investigating Gabriel.

Critics weren't impressed by the convoluted plot, as reflected in the poor Metacritic scores for "Swordfish." However, audiences seem to appreciate the stylish thriller; you'll note the "Swordfish" user score on Metacritic leans in a more positive direction. "Swordfish" might not be high-quality entertainment, but it has a terrific cast and a premise that places a computer wiz at the center of the story.

V for Vendetta

This 2005 film directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski sisters working off a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd might not have much to do with hacking directly. However, due to its connection to real-world hackers in the group Anonymous, it needs to be on this list anyway.

In "V for Vendetta," a rebel known only as V (Hugo Weaving) dresses in a cape, wears a Guy Fawkes mask, and talks like an insane literature professor while fighting to overthrow a fascist government ruling over a hypothetical future Britain. At the beginning of the story, V saves Evey (Natalie Portman) from an assault and takes her to witness his first acts of defiance. V demolishes a building with explosives while playing classical music over the state radio system. Initially, Evey is unwillingly swept up into his plot to subvert the regime, but she slowly becomes a revolutionary after he opens her eyes to the oppression the citizens of Britain live under.

In the real world, Anonymous have taken up the Guy Fawkes mask as their de facto logo, and it's also been a symbol for anti-establishment activists in the U.K. The film is as poignant and fabulous as it was back in 2005, as indicated by its excellent "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In 2011's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) uses her tech skills and natural talents as an investigator to help journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). The unlikely pair solve a cold case, uncovering the dark family secrets of an aging industrialist while revealing the identity of a serial killer who has been operating in Sweden unfettered for decades.

The American film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. While Lisbeth uses her tech savvy for unambiguous good in the 2011 movie, a separate Swedish film series explores this morally gray character further by adapting the remaining books in Larsson's trilogy.

The Swedish language films are brilliant, but so is director David Fincher's take on the material, garnering a "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes and winning an Oscar for editing. In every version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," we finally have a female hacker as the central character of a film — a much-needed development in a genre traditionally dominated by men. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" also explores violence against women, a topic that's more serious and potentially relevant to the audience's actual lives than what we typically see in hacker-centric films.

The Fifth Estate

"The Fifth Estate" is about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). The 2013 film explores how these two men created a platform for whistleblowers to anonymously leak information, and the ramifications of making classified state documents available to the public. It's a journalistic techno-thriller that looks at this controversial website and its architects, as well as the debate over freedom of information in the electronic age — a topic in which hackers are obviously invested.

Freedom of speech, privacy, and government accountability are all complicated issues, but the film attempts to take Assange's stated approach — giving people raw information and letting them draw their own conclusions — rather than explicitly paint any specific person or set of ideas as villainous. While not a perfect film, "The Fifth Estate" includes excellent performances by Cumberbatch and Brühl. Critics have mixed reactions, but the audience ratings on Metacritic are generally positive.

Who am I

If you loved "Fight Club," we've got the perfect film about hackers for you. "Who am I" is a 2014 German language film set in Berlin that is smart, stylish, and sneaky. It's about a lonely computer hacker named Benjamin (Tom Schilling) who lives with his senile grandma and works as a pizza delivery driver. When Benjamin hacks into a university database to steal answers to a test, he is arrested and sentenced to community service.

While doing his hours, Benjamin meets Max (Elyas M'Barek). Max introduces Benjamin to his friends Stephan (Wotan Wilke Möhring) and Paul (Antoine Monot Jr.). Soon the four men carry out subversive hacks under the moniker CLAY — Clowns Laughing at You. Their hacks become increasingly ostentatious and dangerous as they vie for the attention of RMX, the king of underground hackers. Soon the group is in over their heads and wanted by the Cyber Division of Europol.

The plot of "Who am I" is complex and loaded with satisfying twists and turns. The characters are interesting, the acting is top notch, and the production values are excellent. "Who am I" creates tension and excitement using arresting visuals to dramatize the transference of information in cyberspace. 

Although the film hasn't been reviewed by a ton of officially designated critics, the audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes suggest an enjoyable watch.


Director Michael Mann's 2015 techno-thriller "Blackhat" follows brilliant hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) after he is furloughed from prison to assist an American-Chinese taskforce in apprehending a cyber-terrorist who hacks a nuclear power plant in China and the stock exchange in Chicago. The team travels from the U.S. to China and eventually Jakarta as they close in on the black-hat hacker behind these bold cyber-attacks.

While not a terrific film, "Blackhat" is entertaining. The audience and critic scores on Metacritic reveal a general mixed reaction. During most of the movie, Mann adds just enough action sequences to keep us from getting bored watching code on various computer screens. But in the final push of the film, it becomes a full-blown action movie, rather than a high-tech thriller, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you are looking for a film that explores the world of cyber-terrorism, Mann delivers a well-paced piece of entertainment with "Blackhat."


Director Oliver Stone tackles the real-life story of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a former NSA employee and soldier, who leaves his position with the CIA when he learns of the U.S. intelligence agency's illegal electronic surveillance activities. Snowden finds himself in a moral quandary, ultimately deciding to leak classified documents to the press, making him a polarizing figure in the ongoing debate over personal privacy, the freedom of information, and national security.

While this film's premise is tangential to hackers — the eponymous protagonist physically secrets data out of a government facility — it epitomizes the ethical conundrum concerning what hackers choose to do with the secrets they obtain and the potential damage of releasing these secrets. In Snowden's case, he was attempting to save lives, but his own life was destroyed in many ways. "Snowden" was a box office disappointment during its 2014 theatrical run, not even recouping its estimated $40 million budget. The film has a respectable audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps in large part due to Gordon-Levitt's excellent performance.

Ocean's Eight

The connection between heist films and hackers goes all the way back to the 1969 film "The Italian Job," in which Professor Simon Peach (Benny Hill) hacks intersection lights in order to create a huge traffic jam. The hacks have gotten more complex over the years, and they are still often integral to the plots of heist films.

In "Ocean's Eight," after serving her time in prison, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) puts together an all-female team to pull off an ambitious heist during the Met Gala. Debbie's partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) recruits a talented hacker known as Nine Ball (Rihanna) to carry out a series of hacks, ultimately giving the charismatic thieves access to the security cameras in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Their daring heist would have been impossible without the hacker's contributions, but the same is true of the rest of the team played by an all-star ensemble cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, and Anne Hathaway. It is as entertaining as the earlier films in the "Ocean's" franchise, as reflected by the positive ratings on Metacritic.