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The 20 best hacker movies of all time

Stories about hacking have tickled the fancy of scriptwriters even before the invention of the World Wide Web. Filmmakers around the world have been portraying the hacker community for decades. From fiction to documentaries, movies about hackers make both good entertainment and cautionary tales. If you’re looking for something to watch, we’ve made a list of cult classics and lesser-known movies about computer hacking for you to enjoy.

The 20 best hacker movies of all time

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The best hacker movies

Let’s explore our list of hacker movies worth watching.

20. Swordfish (2001)

Swordfish tells the story of a cyberhacker, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), who returns from prison and finds himself unable to see his young daughter due to a restraining order. He meets a woman, Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry), and she persuades him to help a spy, Gabriel Shear (John Travolta), steal billions of dollars and get money for legal fees to get custody of his daughter. Mayhem, including various instances of hacking, ensues. The movie offers some visually appealing and authentic representations of coding, although it is notorious for Travolta’s hair.

19. GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye is the 17th installment in the James Bond franchise. In this movie, Bond (Pierce Brosnan) has to protect the world from a nuclear electromagnetic pulse space-based weapon called “GoldenEye.” Bond must fight ghosts from his past and with the help of a young female programmer, interrupt a hacker’s attempts to control the dangerous space weapon. GoldenEye doesn’t focus on hacking but depicts espionage in the mid-1990s and the growing significance of technology in an entertaining way.

18. Algorithm (2014)

In Algorithm, a young computer hacker, Hash (Raphael Barker), delves into the internet’s dark corners and discovers a mysterious government computer program. Inadvertently, he thrusts himself into a revolution. The movie focuses on cryptography, cyber warfare, and, of course, computer programming. Although it’s fun to watch, this Algorithm review suggests that the hacking scenes lack authenticity.

17. One Point O (2004)

One Point O is a hacker movie that follows computer programmer and network engineer Simon (Jeremy Sisto), who keeps getting empty packages. Despite all the security measures he takes, he can’t find out who sends them. Simon also develops an obsession with a certain product and, as he later discovers, he’s not the only resident of his building to do so. One Point O explores the themes of identity, manipulation, hacking, and algorithms. It is presented as a dystopian cyberpunk horror movie, but watching it now raises the question of how far are we from the scenario depicted in the movie becoming a reality.

16. The Italian Job (2003)

This 2003 movie shares its title but not the plotline of a 1969 British movie — this Italian Job tells the story of a group of skilled thieves planning to steal millions of dollars worth of gold. The group’s hacker, Lyl (Seth Green) manipulates security systems and enables the heist, stressing the importance of cyber expertise and knowledge of technology. This star-filled movie is fun to watch with suspense, action, and the portrayal of digital theft. And let’s not forget the famous Mini Cooper chase sequence.

15. CitizenFour (2014)

CitizenFour is a documentary about the notorious US citizen Edward Snowden but not a traditional hacker movie. Rather, it is the true story of Snowden’s disclosure of classified National Security Agency documents and the revelation of government surveillance. Snowden is portrayed as an ethical hacker, and the documentary raises questions about technological prowess, privacy, and how much of it could and should be sacrificed for the “greater good.”

14. The Fifth Estate (2013)

Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in the 2013 movie The Fifth Estate. The movie explores the ethical dilemmas of the digital age as Assange and his team aim to expose government secrets and promote transparency. The Fifth Estate depicts the rise of WikiLeaks and blurs the lines between hacker culture and whistleblowing. It’s not exactly a hacker movie, but the true story behind it is entertaining.

13. Who Am I (2014)

In the German movie Who Am I Benjamin Engel (Tom Schilling), a young computer hacker, joins the hacker group CLAY (Clowns Laughing At You). The group employs various forms of hacking to play pranks around Berlin, becoming popular on social media. MRX, Benjamin’s hacking role model, laughs at them, and soon things get more serious as members of CLAY must use various hacking techniques just to stay out of prison. Who Am I is unique in the way it portrays hacking and hackers’ communication in the online world. If you need more reasons to watch it, it is Fight Club combined with Mr. Robot.

12. 23 (1998)

The movie 23 tells the story of Karl Koch, a young German computer whiz, and pictures the early hacking and its techniques of the ’80s. In 23, Karl (August Diehl) and his friend hack into an early global data network, and the KGB soon recruits them to spy on the US and West Germany. Witnesses of these real-life events claim that not all the events that happened are pictured accurately in the movie. However, as indicated in this 23 review, the hacking scenes are authentic and still relevant today.

11. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

In Live Free or Die Hard, cyber terrorists threaten to shut down the entire infrastructure of the United States — governmental agencies, financial systems, and traffic lights. John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Matt (Justin Long), a young hacker, join forces to stop them by using new technologies and traditional Die Hard-style action. Live Free or Die Hard hyperbolizes the hacking, stressing the growing importance of cybersecurity, and offers some adrenaline-filled action scenes, making it great entertainment. Also, it’s a cautionary tale of why it is important to pay your programmer.

10. Inception (2010)

Inception is not a traditional hacking movie because Cobb (Leonardo di Caprio) and his team hack into minds instead of computer systems to extract information. However, the strategies and skills, especially psychological ones, that the team uses are similar to those used by computer hackers, only portrayed in Nolanian sci-fi reality. The movie follows Cobb as he tries to do the opposite of his usual job and implant information instead of extracting it in hopes of having his criminal record wiped and seeing his children again. Inception, acclaimed for its impressive visuals, can be seen as cybercrime in the metaphysical realm of the mind.

9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The Millenium series) (2009-2011, 2018)

The Millenium book series became a Swedish movie trilogy (2009) and in 2010 expanded into a TV series, both starring Noomi Rapace as the main protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, a young female hacker. Throughout the movies and series, she uses her hacking, surveillance skills, and expertise to seek revenge and justice and uncover corruption, proving that women can do as much if not more than men in the computer realm. In 2011, David Fincher made the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, and Claire Foy stars in the belated sequel The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018). Popular opinion says that the Swedish adaptations are better, but there’s only one way to be sure — to watch it all yourself.

8. Blackhat (2015)

In the cybercrime thriller Blackhat, heartthrob Chris Hemsworth is a sentenced computer genius hacker, Nicholas Hathaway, who gets a chance to redeem himself. In the movie, cybercriminals hack nuclear plants and stock exchanges, raising the stakes, and making Hathaway the only person to save the world because the criminals use his code. This suspenseful movie received mixed reviews upon release, but not because of the hacking scenes, which are analyzed in this Blackhat review.

7. The Great Hack (2019)

The documentary The Great Hack reveals how Facebook users’ data was harvested without their consent. The movie explores the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which used user data to influence political campaigns. The scandal is retold via interviews with cybersecurity experts and whistleblowers, stressing the power of data in the internet age. This documentary also serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of transparency and accountability and the power of data in the digital world.

6. Takedown (2000)

Takedown is about the notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick and the FBI’s chase, which ended in Mitnick’s arrest in 1995. Although the movie claims to be based on a true story, Mitnick claimed it got many things wrong. However, it portrays some impressive early computer hacking techniques — Mitnick started his hacker career in 1979 when he was still a high school student.

5. Hackers (1995)

Hackers is a cult classic ’90s hacker movie about a subversive hacker group of youngsters into whose hands falls a computer virus that can open doors to millions of dollars. But big money comes with trouble. Starring Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, Hackers is supplemented by progressive music and visual effects. Although critics don’t praise the story, the hacking in the movie is realistic, making it a must-watch.

4. Tron (1982)

In Tron, a computer engineer, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), tries to hack into a computer system to take back the work that was stolen from him by a colleague, Dillinger (David Warner). Instead, Flynn is transported into the computer software and has to fight Dillinger in the digital realm. At the time when it came out, Tron’s visual effects were groundbreaking, just like the concept of hacking as a combat in virtual reality. Some effects and techniques may look dated now, but hey, this is the movie that paved the way for many sci-fi films.

3. The Matrix (1999-2021)

In The Matrix human civilization fell to its demise after the creation of artificial intelligence in the 21st century when machines took over the world, leaving humanity in a simulation. This movie and its three sequels (The Matrix Reloaded [2003], The Matrix Revolutions [2003], and The Matrix Resurrections [2021]) follow the hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves), who is recruited into a rebellion against the machines. In the tetralogy, hacking is a tool for defiance and liberation, the system being the villain. The Matrix movie series is a cult classic, often discussed and analyzed from various aspects, earning the franchise a place among the top three hacker movies.

2. Sneakers (1992)

Sneakers is both a hacking and heist movie. In his youth, an experienced hacker, Martin (Robert Redford), used hacking to take money from evil companies and fund those who fight for good. He turned his skills into a career, and now he is a cybersecurity expert, running penetration tests with his team when the NSA approaches him to retrieve a powerful hacking tool from the Russians. Sneakers has stood the test of time and even foresaw the future of some of its subjects — a true must-watch.

1. WarGames (1983)

In WarGames, American teen hacker David (Matthew Broderick) uses hacking to fix his grades and find a new exciting game. He unknowingly hacks into a military central computer simulation system and, thinking it is just a game, almost starts World War III, because the military supercomputer can’t understand the difference between the simulation and reality. This movie has become even more relevant today because it discusses the subjects of AI, its decision-making, and the fact that the only winning move in war is not to start it.