Hack the Planet

By Jane Hanna

What's the clacking sound? It's furious typing on an outdated keyboard! With improbable graphics and interfaces, ridiculous raver fashions, and a whole lot of Jolt cola, these movies invite you to jack into a slick, sometimes silly world of ones and zeros. Thanks to my cool colleague Sharon for her contributions to this list. You're elite!

  • Hackers

    1998 by Iain Softley

    Trust your techno-lust! Though the slick cyber-fashion and phreaker slang are a bit much, this one is lots of fun to watch--especially to see a young Angelina Jolie, and pre-Trainspotting/Elementary Jonny Lee Miller. Fischer Stevens is a deliciously hammy villain in VR goggles, and the killer electronic dance soundtrack features The Prodigy, Underworld, Orbital and a host of other heavy hitters. Get your computer friends together IRL and laugh at this classic.

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  • Wargames

    1998 by Matthew Broderick

    A young hacker played by Matthew Broderick breaks into a military super computer, resulting in a potential WWIII fallout scenario. Sure, it could happen--at least back in the early 1980s we thought it could! It's dated now (and features one of the clackiest keyboards ever), but this was a big box office success and nominated for three Oscars.

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  • The Matrix

    1999 by Andy Wachowski

    Whoa. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and the Wachowskis deliver a chunk of simulated reality and dystopian overload. Plus you get to see some awesome special effects and very cool outerwear. The first movie introduced the world to "bullet time" camera effects and changed movies forever. Free your mind!

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  • Sneakers

    2003 by Phil Robinson

    I always used to think of shoes when someone mentioned this movie, but I was wrong! It's computer sneaking, with an all-star cast including Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, and Sidney Poitier. Despite mixed reviews, I'd say go with the flow and enjoy the caper.

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  • Blackhat

    2015 by Michael Mann

    Get ready for lots of action and computer shenanigans. A dark-side hacker is serving up a deadly power play. Good thing Thor is on the job. (Well it's Chris Hemsworth, without his Marvel costume and mighty hammer, but whatever. Thor!).

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  • Nerve

    2016 by Emma Roberts

    An online game that has hundreds of teens doing outrageous dares and broadcasting the stunts for all to see. Kids vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down with a mere swipe of the screen. As the stakes escalate, things go all Hunger Games. Enter an underground girl hacker supreme. Woot!

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  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    2010 by Niels Oplev

    Based on the bestselling book by Stieg Larsson, Lisbeth Salander is our favorite fictional hacker. She's brilliant, tough, and deeply troubled. Noomi Rapace is awesome in the role. If you dig this movie, there are two sequels, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. Then try the 2012 American version, for comparison research.

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  • Johnny Mnemonic

    1995 by Keanu Reeves

    Oh Keanu. How do you get yourself into these techno-messes? This time he's a courier in a future where information networks are unsecure and violently controlled, so to move a data package safely requires a little light brain surgery. This one is a circus of silly sci-fi and awesome action, based on a story by cyberpunk godfather William Gibson.

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  • Weird Science

    2008 by John Hughes

    By far the strangest of John Hughes's 80s teen movies. A pair of computer nerds put their big brains into building a big Barbie doll to be their own personal sexbot--and of course outrageous hijinks ensue. Fun fact: the Japanese release was titled Electric Venus.

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  • The Net

    2002 by Irwin Winkler

    Political intrigue and pizza delivery are both a mouse click away in this thriller from the AOL dial-up days. A computer analyst played by Sandra Bullock finds herself caught in the 'net (snort) when she discovers a disk containing sensitive info that the wrong people want back. She's thrown into a fast-paced search for answers, while the bad guys use every information age trick in the book to replace or erase her identity as fast as a 28.8 bps modem will let them.

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  • Swordfish

    2001 by Dominic Sena

    A good cast in a bad movie, this one got more press for Halle Berry's lack of clothing than anything else. It also earned Travolta a 2002 Razzie nomination for Worst Actor (sadly, he lost to Tom Green's performance in Freddy Got Fingered). It's a bank robbery/James Bond wannabe/mob kinda thing, but also with terrorism or something? Oh never mind. Just watch Hackers a second time instead of this one.

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