Anyone who knows their way around a computer can tell you that most hacker movies tend to err on the side of silly when it comes down to the technical side of things, but that doesn’t stop them from being entertaining. Hollywood seems to be fascinated with the hacker trope, often elevating characters with a little programming know-how to super genius status as they crack codes to fight crime or even incite mayhem. Let’s take a look at five of the silver screen’s most famous hackers.
Neo from “The Matrix”
In “The Matrix,” Keanu Reeves plays Thomas A. Anderson, an average Joe programmer working for a software company called MetaCortex, who follows the white rabbit a little too far. As it turns out, robots took over the world 200 years ago and enslaved the human race (they had their reasons), and plugged them into the Matrix, an alternate 20th century reality designed to keep them busy while robots use them for fuel. Thomas takes on his new identity as Neo after he frees himself from the Matrix and starts putting his hacking skills to work against the mysterious master race.
Natalya Simonova from “Goldeneye”
Quintessential Bond girl Natalya Simonova works for the Russian Space Forces as a programmer, specializing in missile guidance systems. Following an attack on the station by General Ouromov and Xenia Onatopp, Simonova meets up with the only other survivor, Boris. Unfortunately, Boris had allied himself with the criminal masterminds, so he turns Simonova over to Onatopp, who plans on blowing London to smithereens using an electromagnetic pulse from a rogue satellite. While being held captive, she meets up with Bond and the two escape, eventually finding their way to a satellite base where Simonova hacks into the system to reset the satellite’s course.
Stanley Jobson from “Swordfish”
Stanley Jobson of “Swordfish,” played by Hugh Jackman, starts out as a punk hacker who uses his skills to infect the FBI’s Carnivore program, which was designed to monitor email and other electronic communication, with a nasty virus that delayed its implementation by several years. His ability catches the attention of the shady character Gabriel Shear, who becomes very interested in recruiting Jobson for his hacking skills.
Lyle “Napster” from “The Italian Job”
In “The Italian Job,” Seth Green plays Lyle, a computer expert who prefers to be called by his alias Napster. He’s part of a group of thieves recruited to pull off a major heist involving Italian gangsters and $35 million of gold bullion. Everything is going swimmingly until the group gets betrayed by their inside man, Steve, who gets away with the gold. A year later, Napster and the group have tracked down Steve and vow to take back the booty. Napster’s shining moment comes when it’s time to thwart Steve’s escape; he hacks into the city of Los Angeles’s traffic system to monitor the trucks Steve is using to transport the gold. Napster eventually disables the security grid to gain full control of the traffic system, creating a jam that is somehow more horrific than typical L.A. traffic and preventing Steve’s trucks from getting away.
Kevin Flynn from “Tron”
Video game designer Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, enjoys a lot of success at his company ENCOM creating best sellers and paving the way for the future of gaming. Things go awry, as they are wont to do in these situations, when Flynn starts using his hacking prowess to expose his boss as a fraudulent slime-ball. Unable to gain access to the data he needs, Flynn enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend, who happens to have been working on a laser that transports matter. Ultimately, his body is broken down into a bunch of digital information and transported into the game grid of Tron, becoming an unwilling participant in a series of gladiator games.