We all criticize Hollywood hacking, but yet we still want to see it in movies. Sometimes hacking is portrayed very well such as in movies like Who Am I (2014) and Mr. Robot. Other times...not so much. Here are the Top 5 Worst Hacker Movies we've ever watched.
5. Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)
Hollywood is capitalizing on the dark web fad without knowing much about it. Unfriended: Dark Web would have been a good film without all the hackery, which is why it's one of the better ones on this list. The acting and casting for this movie is actually very good, and all actors deliver an authentic performance. The main problem people, including myself, dislike this film is because of its supernatural depiction of hacking. The hackers distort camera captures when they walk into frame and demonic black Facebook messages delete themselves.
Unfriended: Dark Web is about a young man, Mattias, who steals a laptop from a lost-and-found and doesn't realize its previous owner was a hacker involved in the trading of snuff films. To Mattias' horror, every one of his friends in a Skype call are killed off one by one if they attempt to leave or call the police. The plot itself is very unrealistic but somewhat better than the first film in the series. There were even some scenes that I was impressed to see included in the film. The swatting scene was a nice inclusion that shows the writers are somewhat versed in internet culture.
All in all, if you want a cyberthriller found-footage type of movie, this is the movie for you. If you want a movie about darknets or hacking, you'll have to look elsewhere. If you want a good deep web story, you should just stick to creepypasta. I'm sorry.
4. Takedown (2000)
Takedown presents a film adaptation of the story of Kevin Mitnick's manhunt and arrest from the perspective of Tsutomu Shimomura, the man who led to his capture. The film has been criticized as being extremely exaggerated and falsified by Kevin Mitnick himself. On top that that, the acting is mediocre and the casting is questionable. There's just about nothing to like about this film.
Many scenes in the movie never happened in real life and Shimomura was not the hero character that is depicted. One thing that was done right was the use of the VMS operating system in the movie, since Kevin was very fond of VMS after stealing its source code. Further, the hacking scenes were a little more realistic than other Hollywood hacking movies.
Takedown is a film that has been mostly forgotten; with Tsutomu Shimomura hated while Kevin Mitnick remains widely loved.
3. Swordfish (2001)
Swordfish is actually not that bad of an action movie, but it sucks as a hacker movie. If the film could have just been an action film without being marketed on hacking scenes—and without Halle Berry's gratuitous nudity—I personally think it would have been better received and left a better legacy. This film was written in a time where Hollywood thought that adding hacking to a movie suddenly made a movie cooler and trendier. Though, as people have become much more aware about what hacking actually is in recent years, the writers' incompetence and lack of understanding has some light shone on it
Swordfish is about a convicted computer hacker on probation who joins a crime syndicate to make enough money to help him pay legal fees to reunite with his daughter. He is tasked with writing a worm to steal 9.5 billion dollars from the government to stop terrorism by accelerating the process of destruction. The opening sequence was actually really good; John Travolta explaining how to revolutionize bad guys in Hollywood films by using more shock value, and then himself stepping into a hostage negotiation of the same nature. The ending sequence was also interesting.
John Travolta's Performance in Swordfish won him a Razzy award, though I think his acting was alright. The film was casted to be a blockbuster hit; with Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, and John Travolta accompanied by some great production, but seemed to only accomplish the bust part. What would it have taken to replace all the wacky computerized geometry with a command prompt and some C code? The movie would have been so much better.
2. Hackers (1995)
Hackers, Angelina Jolie's film debut. This movie is so bad it's good. The film was written by people who had no idea what hacking actually was for people of the same nature. If you are easily triggered by people throwing around terms they don't understand and CGI in places of a command prompt, turn away...fast! One of my biggest gripes I have with this movie is the whole "I can hack better than you" snarky attitudes that everyone in this movie has.
The movie centers around a teenaged hacker who is roped into an investigation because of a friend who is framed by a malicious system admin. All the hackers have the most 90s hacker names you'll ever hear; Cereal Killer, Crash Override, Acid Burn, Plague and others. What's funny about this movie is that it is so 90s; skateboarding sysadmins, rollerblading, the language and attire, this movie really takes you back to the past.
One thing this movie got right was how cruel law enforcement can be to kids hacking computers and how uninformed the media and parents are about cyberthreats. Kids are treated as though they were terrorists, though they were only copying files. This treatment shows no sign of letting up, with swat teams still abusing kids involved in cybercrime.
1. Algorithm (2014)
Algorithm, a low budget film about a group of hackers. Oh god, this movie is ass. This is hands down the worst film about hacking ever conceived. The acting is atrocious, the characters are not likeable and the plot is weak. The twist ending also seems forced.
Algorithm is about a recreational computer hacker who discovers a mysterious government computer program, Shepherd. He tries to figure out what Shepherd does and the secret service comes after him. This movie is very slow, there are many scenes that seem very forced and take a long time to end. It just doesn't captivate much interest, I have no idea how Steve Wozniak actually enjoyed it.
I hope these films serve as a reminder of what not to do in a movie with hacking as a central theme. The hacking movie fad is over, so Hollywood won't try to exploit hacking for a quick buck anymore...hopefully. With Mr. Robot setting the bar so high, maybe we'll actually get some more enjoyable cyberthrillers. I wish you safe travels and happy hacking.