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hacker with gloves

Friday fun for the IT crowd: “Blackhat” and other hacking movies

January 16, 2015
By Lisa Dare

Did you like Heat? Of course you liked Heat. Or maybe, like me, you love the three-hour movie so much your Saturday is pretty much done for if you spot it on cable. Well, you’re in luck: The film's acclaimed director, Michael Mann, has released a new movie about hacking and cyberterrorism.

Don’t groan! Apparently, this one gets most of the technical parts right. Wired discussed a recent screening with InfoSec experts who apparently couldn't uncover much to pick apart in the film, and did find a lot to like. Although the film is scoring miserably on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert loved it (some plot silliness aside), and it sounds like a must-see for anyone interested in IT.

So bad they’re good: Hacking movies

Not every film about computers gets the details right, of course. In fact, most make hacking movies (and all computer movies are about hacking) look far more glamorous than typing lines of code while sipping Red Bull. 

3. The Net

It’s amazing a movie that's equal parts outlandish and dull managed to scare a whole generation about … well, fairly legitimate concerns about data privacy, actually:

“They knew everything about me ... They knew what I ate, they knew what I drank, they knew what movies that I watch, they knew … where I was from, they knew what cigarettes I used to smoke ... ”

Of course, the all-knowing spies in The Net were bad guys using data to kill Sandra Bullock. Now the ones who know everything about us are Facebook and Google, and they’re using our data for to get us to reconsider online purchases we didn't make. Which is also pretty nefarious.   

2. Hackers

No worst hacking movies list would be complete without Hackers, the much-derided cyber punk film in which teenaged bad boys and Angelina Jolie foil evil other hackers using 28K modems, payphones and—of course—skateboards.

Best line: “You wanted to know who I am, Zero Cool? Well, let me explain the new world order. Governments and corporations need people like you and me. We are samurai... the keyboard cowboys... and all those other people who have no idea what's going on are the cattle... Moooo.”

1. Disclosure

Disclosure is so ludicrous that just rewatching scenes for this blog constituted the best hour of my week. The slick mid-'90s film so wanted to dazzle us with cutting-edge technology that it made no sense at all. And the silliest premise in a very silly movie is actually the software design.

First, how cool is this scene?

In case you can't watch: Michael Douglas enters an office and dons fancy gloves and a headset. Blue laser light shoots out of the wall. His hands are slowly reconstructed on a screen, and then his face, all to the accompaniment of a cool “whoosh” booting-up sound effect.

Douglas then enters a virtual temple, and a female voice instructs him he’s entered a “prototype for a virtual-reality database,” adding, “If you have any questions, please ask the angel.” Then he walks to a virtual file drawer and pulls out a virtual file with virtual papers inside. It's awesome. And utterly pointless.

Even by 1994 standards, enabling users to virtually-manually store documents was not a money-making idea. (Trust me, I watched this movie the year it came out, and the concept left me with one thought: Huh?). I guess walking into a virtual reality file room has one advantage over simply opening a file with a mouse: you do get your exercise.   

Enjoy this? You'll love our look back at the Nintendo Power Glove.

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of tech, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.

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