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10 movies with a cybercrime theme!

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 spamremoving 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.

 
 

WarGames (1983)
WarGames (1983)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086567/

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 verdict:

 
Sneakers (1992)

Sneakers (1992)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105435/

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 verdict:

 
The New (1995)

The Net (1995)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113957/

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?

The verdict:

 
Hackers (1995)

Hackers (1995)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113243/

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!

The verdict:

 
Swordfish (2001)

Swordfish (2001)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0244244/

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.

The verdict:

 
Antitrust (2001)

Antitrust (2001)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0218817/

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. 

The verdict:

 
Firewall (2006)

Firewall (2006)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408345/

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!

The verdict:

1of5

 
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0337978/

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.   

The verdict:

 
Untraceable (2008)

Untraceable (2008)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0880578/

“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 verdict:

 
The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network (2010)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/

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!

The verdict:

 

Did we leave out a movie or are we completely wrong? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

GD Star Rating
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10 movies with a cybercrime theme!, 4.5 out of 5 based on 23 ratings

About Kim Falkner

VP Marketing for SPAMfighter with a passion for IT-security and blogging. Follow me on Google+ (+Kim Falkner) or LinkedIn (Kim Falkner on LinkedIn)
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20 Comments

  1. April says:

    AntiTrust was the best imo. I have watched that movie multiple of times. LOL

  2. trent says:

    Wargames was good fun for the era but my family also enjoyed to more recent remake. As a family we also enjoyed swordfish. really didn’t like The Social Network.

  3. Boy, that was really helpful! We just joined Netflix and your list is going to help a lot. I loved “Sneakers” and I didn’t like “Firewall” at all, so
    I’m going to use your list to help us make our next selections.

  4. John says:

    Great collection of themed movies.
    I especially like War Games and The Social Network.
    Nice idea and good post thanks.
    JP

  5. Given that you’ve bent the rules a bit with The Social Network, I’ll do the same with a much earlier film: Colossus: The Forbin Project, from 1970. In this case the cyber crime was carried out by the computers themselves, who took control in order to stop war… I actually saw the movie when it first came out, and had read the book before that…

  6. Falkner says:

    @Michael – Thank you for the tip. We had to check IMDB to learn about that one.

  7. Ali Lowell says:

    LOVE this list and have seen most of these films. Looking back, it’s comical how rudimentary/unrealistic the interfaces were on so many of the screenshots from these films – thinking mostly of War Games and The Net. Always makes me laugh.

  8. cybersans says:

    you give THE SOCIAL NETWORK 5 stars? really?!?!?! i assume your are script kiddo which age around 18-21 that like to play facebook 24/7 :P

  9. Falkner says:

    @cybersans – Double the 18-21 and we are about there :) We do not believe you have to like facebook to enjoy that movie. Likewise you do not have to be interested in stocks & mergers to enjoy Wall Street which is pretty much a similar movie about greed and ambition

  10. Eugene says:

    I think The Net should haave got more than 3 stars

  11. Emilia says:

    Among these movies, Social Network is definitely my favorite. This may have portrayed Mark as a greedy best friend but he was portrayed a really smart man here. :)

  12. Ben Harvey says:

    Great stuff, my favorite would have to be firewall, loved the twist and Harrison FOrd :D

  13. Mario DAloia says:

    I cant go past Sandra Bullock she had me interested throughout the movie “The Net” Gets my vote !!

  14. jogos online says:

    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.

  15. google says:

    The fourth Mission Impossible movie with Tom Cruise is a real surprise. Most sequels tend to go downhill in flavor, but this installment has been a crowd pleaser for its splendid live-action stunts and high-tech thrills. In this modern actioner, you will see iPhones that crack door codes, iPads that spy on security guards, wireless intrusion vectors that are delivered by balloon, hijacked security networks, and a little bit of hacker fun involving Dean Martin music. This show definitely has many entertaining hacker moments, and a good 2 hours of high-octane excitement.

  16. defense attorney Harris County says:

    Cyber crimes are really a good movie theme. The list that you provided is pretty good. Swordfish is one of the best there, though. Thank you for sharing this.

  17. David says:

    @cybersans the fact that I like ẗhe social network” does not mean that I am a script kiddie. Why the hell do you think like that?

  18. Kim Falkner says:

    @David,

    You are right. Most studies actually show that social media users are aged 30+. Only 21% are under 25 and more than 50% are 35+ ! (see http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012/). For FB that is 65%!

  19. Miriam Tow says:

    you are right on wargames but wrong on swordfish

  20. joe swope says:

    great list – but would add these mostly on sci-fi area
    1- silent running 2- gattacca 3- a perfect world 4- i robot 5 enemy of the state

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