Hello there! We decided to take little trip down memory lane by taking a look at movies with a cyber crime theme. Why? Because here at SPAMfighter, fighting spam, removing malware and dealing with cyber crime is something we do on a daily basis and some of us are also avid movie buffs. So what is a cyber crime movie and how do we rate a really good cyber crime movie? A cyber crime movie has to have themes involving computers, modern technology and a crime of some sort, but the movie should also be entertaining with a haunting or moving plot and great acting. We’ve decided that movies with a realistic depiction of cyber crime but mediocre in its other characteristics do not make the cut, and after much discussion, to stay away from science fiction movies as well. Anyway, enough talking. Here is the ultimate SPAMfighter list of 10 cyber crime movies.
Probably the godfather of all cybercrime movies, but correct us here if we are wrong. WarGames is a typical eighties cybercrime movie with a Cold War feeling where a high school nerd suddenly finds himself with access to military computers and the ability to start world war 3. We can’t comment on the general level of military IT security portrayed in a movie that takes place circa 1983 and the plot is very unlikely but effective as popcorn entertainment. So the verdict is: we like it. Growing up in the eighties this is a bit of a classic. Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy are very likeable and as the earliest cybercrime movie release that we know of, we’re giving WarGames a generous 4 SPAMfighter crosshair rating. Hooray!
The title of this movies does not refer to shoes but a security team being hounded by government baddies guys after discovering a computer program that is able to hack any security system. At the time it may have seen a bit far fetched but now almost 20 years later it stands the test of time. The focus on surveillance especially hits the mark. The cast is comprised of brilliant actors like Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd and the late River Phoenix. While the movie generally seems a bit underrated overall there are a lot of enthusiasts who rate this little flick as exceptional. Definitely worthwhile if you have not seen it yet!
The Net (1995)
This techno-stolen-identity-girl-geek movie was one of the first where the Internet had such a leading role. Also, identity theft was introduced in a pretty George Orvellian way. That probably scared the hell out of some people but would it raise many eyebrows today? Probably not. The technology shown in the flick was unfortunately not really avaiable in 1995 so they seem to have spiced things up a bit. Still it looks rather outdated today. Some like the movie – we’re not huge fans but decided for a generous three SPAMfighter crosshair rating just for casting Sandra Bullock as a geek (although that seems as plausible as Vin Diesel knitting a scarf). What happened to Sandra Bullock by the way? She seemed to be very popular but rarely hits the big screens anymore. In the movie someone steals her life. Have they also stolen her acting career?
This movies earns a SPAMfighter crosshairs solely for naming a character “Cereal Killer” and another for casting a young Angelina Jolie as a hacker. Having her as your sidekick – now that is every hacker’s dream! Anyway, this movie is somewhat of a WarGames for the nineties in its portrayal of how a kid with a computer and internet access is able to hack into government computers with ease. If can look past that, the techno driven score, and 3D computer renderings, “Hackers” might be worth a watch. In case you wondered, real life hacking is typing commands in boring Unix shells – not quite as sensational as seen here. Watch this as a fun movie to pass the time, not for its depiction of cyber crime. We end up with an average rating of 3 crosshairs!
A hacker played by Hugh Jackman is forced into helping bad guy John Travolta get his hands on a couple million USD. Not exactly an original storyline here. Although Swordfish has nice visual effects and slick cinematography overall, at the end of the day the story is mostly nonsense and predictable. In one particularly silly scene the hacker acquires access to a FBI system just by hammering on a keyboard. Hugh Jackman act similarly to his role in X-men, unfortunately without the claws. John travolta – like his role in Battlefield Earth, fortunately without strange stuff hanging from his nose. So, fellow SPAMfighters, stay away from this one! One mediocre SPAMfighter crosshair for casting Halle barry.
This is a cyber crime movie with a far more realistic depiction of cyber crime. The creators went the extra mile by having done some actual research. Ryan Phillippe stars as a young hotshot programmer who lands a job at a big company (think Microsoft), and similarly, the movies deals with antitrust issues. Watching the movie, we are happy that technology is not depicted as flashing 3D screens and loud “Access granted” screens but seems much more realistic.
Now this is a cyber crime movie we do not like. Harrison Ford is a company favorite here especially when holding a whip or a lasergun but this thriller is simply the cliche of thrillers. Even die-hard Harrison fans will find this film ridiculous. Harrison stars as a “security expert” who is trying to save his family using parts of his daugters iPod, a fax machine and other handy tools. The title “Firewall” had us hoping that the cyber crime theme would be stronger but it’s not. Stay away from this one fellow SPAMfighters!
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Bad guy fighting policeman (dinosaur) John McClane teams up with your typical movie hacker nerd to fight cyber-terrorists who are trying to shut down the US’ financial system and generally wreak havoc. The die hard “Yippy ki-yay MuthaXXXX..” clamoring McClane is once again out to save to day. If you like the rest of the Die Hard series you’re likely to enjoy this one as well. As to the cybercrime theme, it’s present but just a little far fetched. Sure, it’s normal enough to reprogram mobile phones and hack computer while clips of ammo are being unloaded at you, but it just doesn’t do much for the movie. We also really miss the performances of Alan Rickman or Jeremy Irons who played great villians in the previous DH films.
“Untraceable” refers the act of hiding your actions on the Internet but they should probably have renamed the movie to “Unbelieveable” or “Unrealistic”. In the movie a killer has a website which broadcasts his killings live on the internet. The more people visiting the website the faster the victim dies. Diane Lane stars as an FBI agent who uses a PC without antivirus protection and consequently ends up on the killer’s to-do list. Anyone with even a morsel of technological knowledge is likely to laugh out loud at the movie’s silly-ness. Case in point, the killer even manages to hack the agent’s car! Anyway, if you are into movies with serial killers, such as “Saw” or “Silence of the Lambs”, you might find this interesting but do not watch it for its cyber crime plot!
The Social Network (2010)
Not exactly a cybercrime movie but there is a lawsuit over intellectual property of a website, so close enough. The plot: A smart student named Mark Zuckerberg creates a small site called Facebook and is accused of stealing the idea for it. That small site ends up being a huge success and you’re probably aware of that since you’re already a fan of SPAMfighter’s Facebook page. Even though Mark Zuckerberg, the real one, insists that the only accurate part about his portrayal in the movie is the clothes that he wears, we found it to be a great movie about friendship, greed, ambition and entrepreneurship. The movie did not win the Oscar for Best Movie but is awarded something almost as good. A fantastic SPAMfighter 5 crosshairs rating!
Did we leave out a movie or are we completely wrong? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.