Yes, I am a computer geek. It’s what I do for a living, it’s what I do for a hobby. So it’s nice to see a movie that has an entertaining, and skilled, computer hacker amongst it’s characters. It’s also entertaining to see computer hackers that conform to the stereotype we all have; socially inept boobs who live in our parent’s basement and do nothing but play video games and hack into companies’ databases.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of who I think are the best computer hackers ever portrayed in a movie or tv show. My only criteria for choosing was that the geek in question actually exhibit some computer skills by hacking into something while onscreen and be somewhat entertaining. If his exploits are just alluded to or talked about, then no dice. So here is my list of Hollywood’s best computer hackers as seen by me. I’m sure there are a couple you think I’ve missed or neglected, so you can put your vote for your favorite in the comments.
Lazlo Hollyfeld (movie, Real Genius) - How do you know you are pretty smart? An entire school of geniuses call you a genius, that’s how. That’s the position of one Lazlo Hollyfeld. After graduating Pacific Tech in the ’70s he retreats to an impressive secret laboratory we have to assume he built in the bowels of the school to…..well, they never actually say what he does down there. He helps some students reprogram the trajectory of a military laser to fire on the house of a professor. How cool is that? He’s become an urban legend around that school and that’s cool enough to put him on this list.
Wyatt Donnelly (movie, Weird Science) - He built a chick with his computer and a Barbie doll. I say it again, HE BUILT A CHICK WITH HIS COMPUTER AND A BARBIE DOLL. Move to the front of the line, Wyatt.
Mr. Universe (movie, Serenity) - The ultimate in paranoid genius. This guy holes up in his hidden headquarters spying on everyone else. He has hookups to every government net and news feed in the universe (hence his moniker). He also built a robot as a girlfriend and then married it. I guess genius is a double edged sword.
Luther Stickell (movie, Mission: Impossible) – The Net Ranger. Phineas Phreak. This is the only man alive that has hacked NATO Ghostcom. That’s impressive and I don’t even know what NATO Ghostcom is. Although, as Luther will point out, there was no evidence he had anything to do with that. He’s the Shaft of computer programmers. He’ll hack your computer, steal your identity and bank accounts, then beat you down for looking at him funny. He’s one bad mutha….SHUT YO MOUTH!
Marshall Flinkman (tv show, Alias) - Mr. Flinkman is a total computer geek. He loves gadgets and he is really good as the head tech at spy shop SD-6. However, he’s not always the most socially adept person in the room. When explaining the gadgets for the current mission he tends to get a little excited and might either a) branch WAY off topic or b) get WAY too technical. He did put his life on the line in several missions so he’s got some spy cred.
Chloe O’Brian (tv show, 24) - Chloe is the only person (let alone a chick) who can backtalk Jack Bauer and not come away with a hole in her leg, kneecap or chest. For that reason alone, she belongs on this list. Oh that and she’s sick with a computer. Need to break an unbreakable encryption in less than 5min? Call Chloe. Need to maneuver government satellites to a new position immediately? Call Chloe. Need to pull data off some electronic device that has been fried, shot up or destroyed? Call Chloe. She can do it all and treat you with complete and utter disdain at the same time. That’s so hot.
Stanley Jobson (movie, Swordfish) - Stanley might be the best looking and most in-shape computer programmer since, well…..me. His interview with Gabriel (John Travolta) in the club is proof that Stanley has got SKILLZ. Why doesn’t this ever happen to me?
Lyle (movie, Italian Job) - Lyle roomed with Napster creator Shawn Fanning in college where he claims Fanning stole the idea for Napster from him. Because of this, he will only answer to “The Real Napster”. As the tech brains of the crew, Lyle hacked into LA’s Dept of Transportation in order to change the lighting of the traffic signals to lead their target armored car exactly where they wanted it to go. In the end, all the boy wanted was enough money to buy a set of speakers so loud they blow women’s clothes off. A noble goal, my friend. A noble goal indeed.
David Lightman (movie, War Games) - One of the original gangsters of computer programming. You see the computer he used and what he did with it? He hacked his school, a computer gaming company and the US government, all with a computer that, today, would be akin to using an abacus to do your taxes. And he hooked up with Ally Sheedy when she was cute.
Kevin Flynn (movie, Tron) - Mr. Flynn was Neo before there was a Matrix. Flynn was so good his company, ENCOM, stole his video game designs, made millions off them, and then fired him. He has been trying to hack into their system ever since. He got sucked into the world of computers and was treated as a God. That’s gotta do a number on your ego.
Well, those are what, I believe to be, the best hackers ever put to screen. Some people will harp on me not including Neo from the Matrix on this list. My argument is that his hacking skills were really only talked about in the movie. You never really see him hack into anything. He does some vaguely hackerish stuff right before he meets Trinity, but that’s it. I’m more impressed with the gentleman above. Also, all the characters from the 1995 movie Hackers are complete jack-holes, so I refuse to include them here.
That about covers it. Let me know what you think in the comments.