List vs List vs List: Cult Film Club’s Top 15 Movie Hackers

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Since the Cult Film Club just covered 1995′s Hackers, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explore some of our favorite silver screen computer geniuses.  We each narrowed our favorites down to a list of five and we’re pitting them against each other like that time when Acid Burn and Crash Override clashed to form Crash & Burn!

 

First up, let’s take a look at Pax’s top five hackers…

#5 – Lazlo Hollyfeld (Real Genius – 1985)

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How do you know you are pretty smart? An entire school of geniuses call you a genius, that’s how. That’s 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’s become an urban legend around that school and that’s cool enough to put him on my list.

#4 Wyatt Donnelly (Weird Science – 1985)

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This character probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you think “movie hackers”, but he hacked several large super computers to give him more computing power to BUILD A REAL LIFE WOMAN in his bedroom.  Well played, Mr Donnelly, well played.

#3 Luther Stickell (Mission: Impossible – 1996)

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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. He’s the Shaft of computer programmers. Sadly, we didn’t see much of him after the first M:I movie.  I had hoped to see a spin-off series featuring just him.  THAT would be an excellent show (it couldn’t be worse than that Scorpions show).

#2 Kevin Flynn (Tron – 1982)

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Mr. Flynn was Neo before there was a Matrix. Flynn was so good his company, ENCOM, stole his video game code, made millions off them and then fired him. He has been trying to hack into their system ever since. Before he got sucked into the world of computers and was treated as a God, he owned his own arcade called Flynn’s.

#1 David Lightman (WarGames – 1983)

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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, at the time, was like using an abacus to do your taxes. And he hooked up with Ally Sheedy when she was cute.

 

Now let’s take a look at the five crack computer wizs that made Shawn’s list…

#5 Paul Bradford (The Dungeonmaster – 1984)

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Paul is just your basic middle-management 80s IT tech, well, basic except that he created an advanced computer with AI he’s nicknamed Cal (short for X-Calibr8), who acts as his personal assistant that he can interface with via a special pair of amazingly huge glasses.  He uses it to do what most of us would, hacking ATMs and getting sucked into a fantasy world where he has to do battle with a serious evil wizard played by the towering Richard “Bull” Moll.  The movie is insanely bad, so bad it curves right back around to good.

#4 Daryl (D.A.R.Y.L. – 1985)

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Speaking of stealing from ATMs, Daryl, the titular android kid from the 80s cheesefest is pretty damn good at that too.  Not only that but being a highly advanced military droid, Daryl can hack into pretty much any network or computer system.  Did I mention that he can get to the kill screen on Pole Position?

#3 Joey, aka The Master of Disaster, no wait, Dr. Doom! (Hackers – 1995)

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We talked at length about our collective love for Hackers on the most recent episode of the CFC, but if I were pressed to pick my favorite it would have to be the naive Joey.  Is it his penchant for smoking two cigarettes at once, his inability to pick a good online handle, or the fact that he was the only one in the film who named his own computer (Lucy)?  All of the above…

#2 Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 2009)

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Lisbeth Salander is one hell of a hardcore, neo-noir, cyberpunk who you really really don’t want to mess with.  I don’t want to spoil the movies/books for those that haven’t seen them since they’re still relatively new, but let me just say she gets put through the ringer and her revenge is pretty damn badass.

#1 Irwin ‘Whistler’ Emery (Sneakers – 1992)

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Easily my favorite hacker of all time, Whistler is the heart and soul of Sneakers.  Not only is he blind, but with Daredevil-esque senses he can pinpoint almost exactly where Robert Redford’s character was taken after being beaten and stuffed into a trunk by a description of the surrounding sounds alone.  Oh, and he has a subscription to the braille edition of Playboy, because he’s awesome.

 

Last, but hardly least, Jaime runs down her five favorite phantom phreaks…

#5 Zeke Hawkins (Sliver – 1993)

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He’s super creepy in that stalkerish way that stalkers are super creepy, but he’s a damn good looking one at least.  Let’s just say you really don’t want William Baldwin as your building super…

#4 John Connor (Terminator 2: Judgement Day – 1991)

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Hacking ATMs is basically the first step to becoming elite.  It also doesn’t hurt when your mom is super paranoid because she knows that one day a cyborgs will overtake the planet and end humanity as we see it.  That will totally get one started down the path of doing some righteous hacking, cause you got to hack them before they crush your skull under their mighty hunter-killers…

#3 Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 1986)

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Ferries (er, Matthew Broderick) seems to have gleamed some of the tricks that David Lightman used, namely hacking into the school computers to augment his records for the better.  Is it just me or are we ready for a more grown up Broderick to make another computer hacking movie?

#2 Dennis Nedry (Jurassic Park – 1993)

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All you have to know is… “Ah Ah Ah, you didn’t use the magic word!”  Nedry is one hacker we were glad to see eaten by dinosaurs…

#1 Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II – 1991)

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Donnie does machines, and by doing machines I mean finding a way to type with his enormously mutated stubby fingers on a standard keyboard.  That takes skill.  He also knows the danger of a coded database, like for reals…

So, who would make your top five computer hackers list?  Let us know in the comments!

 

  • Retromash

    AWESOME list. As WarGames is my all time favourite film I just can’t get past David Lightman I’m afraid. No-one else comes close. He hacks into his school and banks, he has to put himself in ‘physical danger’ by being abusing teachers in order to find the school passwords, and he plays Galaga in his spare time. The guy is a god.

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Lol, I hear ya Retro, I’m pretty sure that’s why he topped Pax’s list (and to be honest Jaime and I kept him off ours since Pax nabbed him first ;) ).