You have to admit, hacker movies are fun to watch because of one main reason: they make you feel like you can do the heists and stunts yourself. No wonder hacker flicks are so popular among tech geeks. They make you dream of doing the technically extraordinary. Thanks to online streaming services like Netflix, you can now binge-watch as many movies and shows that feature hacker protagonists as you want!
Best Hacker Movies and Shows on Netflix
On this list, we’ve included not just hacking in the computer world but also traditional hacking—or as you would call it in classical terms, heists, of all kinds. Why? Because heists almost always involve the use of highly technical knowledge. Without further ramblings and spoilers, here are the best hacker movies and shows that you can find on Netflix.
1. Mercury Rising (1998)
Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Jeffries whose main duty is to protect a nine-year-old boy with autism named Simon. The boy has become a target for assassins after he cracked the government’s supposedly unbreakable security code. Simon has learned how to read the advanced encryption code called “Mercury,” thus the title. Because of his ability, the government fears that their secret code has become vulnerable to enemies. If any potential terrorists are to learn about Simon, they could capture him and use him to infiltrate the National Security Agency (NSA).
2. Snowden (2016)
An employee of the NSA has leaked the agency’s illegal surveillance techniques due to his disappointment. After he quit, Edward Snowden provides the press with classified documents to prove his allegations, which now makes him a threat to the agency.
The movie is based on a book series, The Snowden Files, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title role. Director Oliver Stone has been praised by critics for his work, for making the story so complex that viewers become so immersed in it. It’s a heart-stopping drama with lots of thrilling spy action. What’s interesting about this cybersecurity movie is that it was told through flashbacks though it’s not entirely a new technique.
3. Hang the DJ (Black Mirror: Season 4, Episode 4; 2017)
The British series, Black Mirror, has been acclaimed for its dark social commentary and unhappy endings, and Hang the DJ is perhaps one of the exceptions. This particular episode is about a highly advanced dating app called “The System,” which boasts of a 99% success rate in matching the right couple. The episode starts with Frank and Amy meeting for the first time in a restaurant and who are then brought to a honeymoon suite via a golf cart but they have little to no knowledge of what’s waiting for them.
The System has an ultra-advanced technology that prevents couples from getting together if “it” thinks that they are not meant to be. Frank and Amy definitely hit it off, but something goes wrong and now, the two have to find a way to crack The System if they are to end up with each other.
4. Inception (2010)
One of the most successful and most popular hacker movies of all time, Inception is available to watch on Netflix if you have a subscription. It has been rumored that acclaimed director Christopher Nolan wrote the script for the movie in a span of ten years. Whether that’s true or not, Inception definitely earned well-deserved praises.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb who steals highly classified corporate secrets using something called a dream-sharing technology. It allows him to plant an idea to whomever he targets; in this case, a CEO. This ultimately made Cobb a national threat and he is offered one last job to gain redemption. He forms a team of hackers to do the task, but their plans are no match for their enemies who can predict their every move.
The film is star-studded including Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, among others. It is definitely one of the best hacker movies on Netflix to devour when you are craving for action and an intelligently-written film.
5. Ghost in the Shell (2020)
Imagine the chaos if the world has been subjected to an artificial-intelligence-driven war. Ghost in the Shell is a Japanese animation and has become one of the most popular Netflix shows.
The war begins after the world faced a global financial crisis. The members of Japan’s former elite force called Section 9 have now become mercenaries to combat the AIs. What can humans do to defeat them? Their only hope is to devise a technology that is just as sophisticated. This is an absolute treat for tech geeks who are also anime fans.
6. Now You See Me (2013)
What could be more interesting than watching the FBI and Interpol work together to track down a troupe of illusionists using their magic tricks to perform bank heists? Even more intriguing is that they reward their audience with money!
Now You See Me is about four illusionists who later decided to call themselves the Four Horsemen. It stars Mark Ruffalo and Jesse Eisenberg. The authorities try to find out how they pulled off their biggest bank heist in Las Vegas, but the mystery is too overpowering and they are instead pulled into more illusions and dark secrets. Every time they think they are getting close to the answers, the less they see. The whole thing has become a big puzzle that is almost impossible to solve.
7. Swordfish (2001)
Starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, and Halle Berry, Swordfish is one of the most exciting hacker movies in the early 2000s. A secret anti-terrorist group wants to fight international terrorism, but they don’t have the funds to finance their operations. So, they seek the help of one of the famous hackers of their time, Stanly Jobson who is convicted at the time, to help them get the money that’s been locked away.
This money came from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s dummy account called Swordfish, which they shut down 15 years ago. Since it was halted, Swordfish has gained interest and the money grew to over nine billion dollars. The money is protected by a super-encrypted system and the hacker, Jobson, cooperates to hack into the system in exchange for his freedom so he could see his daughter again.
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Ah, a conman with many names and faces, Leonardo DiCaprio makes this movie a delight to watch. He plays a young man named Frank who hones his skills in forgery to get not just money but also the ladies. Despite his lack of academic knowledge, he has successfully passed as a doctor, a lawyer, and even a pilot! You can say his character is almost an antihero because he just has too much charm that you will find yourself rooting for the guy. His tandem with Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl trying to track him down makes the film even more interesting.
Carl becomes utterly obsessed with capturing him. Without us giving any spoilers, you must watch out for the scene in the movie during Christmas eve where the two of them finally speak directly. It has a great soundtrack and lots of thrilling scenes full of deception and all sorts of hacking that you could possibly think of.
9. Arkangel (Black Mirror: Season 4, Episode 2; 2017)
An overprotective single mom is worried about her daughter. Not knowing what she’s getting herself and her daughter into, she signs up for a beta-testing of an advanced tracking device. It can monitor her daughter’s location and activities. She later loses sight of her obsession to control her daughter and begins spying on her, violating her privacy. The daughter eventually figures this out and retaliates by doing the exact things that would upset her mother. Can their relationship be repaired after such a betrayal and violation of trust?
10. Die Hard 4.0 (2007)
Also known by the title Live Free or Die Hard, Die Hard 4.0 is an interesting addition to the Die Hard series and one of the most action-filled hacker movies on Netflix. In this movie, John McClane works with a young hacker named Farrell to take down a dangerous cyber-terrorist. The terrorist, played by Timothy Olyphant, has hacked into the FBI’s cybercrime system around the 4th of July when he thinks that most of the agents are not in the office. The FBI director seeks the help of the local police departments to track him down.
11. The Core (2003)
There’s something incredibly wrong and troubling about the Earth’s core. It seems that it has stopped rotating and if scientists don’t solve the problem within a year, the planet is doomed. Already, strange things are happening. There have been huge thunderstorms and animals are acting crazy. Scientists and geophysicists team up to resolve the issue and it seems that the only way to save Earth is to drill down to the core. Their plan is to go down the Earth’s center and plant a nuclear device that will make its core spin again.
They have to hack into the Earth’s core by setting off explosions for it to start rotating like it normally did. But to do this successfully, they need a skilled hacker to do the extraneous research, or else, the simplest mistake can speed up the end of humanity.
12. The Bling Ring (2013)
Though more of a lighthearted flick, The Bling Ring is still one good hacker movie to watch on Netflix. It is one of Emma Watson’s first movies after playing Hermione for years in Harry Potter. The film was based on actual events and as you may have guessed, it involves real-life famous hackers. It’s about a bunch of teenagers obsessed with fame who resort to online hacking to track their favorite celebrities’ houses and break into their private properties.
At first, it seems that they are only trying on their clothes, shoes, and jewelry, but they later progress to stealing from them as well. This obsession started at a party where two of them managed to unlock a celebrity’s vehicle. They took their cash and other valuables. Soon enough, the teenagers find themselves on a spree, breaking into famous people’s houses and they become unstoppable. Can they get out of this dirty habit?
13. Eagle Eye (2008)
If you are fond of conspiracy theories and stories around government paranoia, this movie will get in your head. The movie itself may not be available on Netflix US, but if you know how to watch Netflix movies with a VPN, you’re golden.
Jerry, played by Shia LaBeouf, and a stranger named Rachel both receive a phone call telling them that their lives and families are in danger. It started when Jerry suddenly received a huge amount of money in his bank account. Not knowing what he’s signing up for, he follows the instructions of the voice on his phone and before he and Rachel know it, they are being chased by the FBI. They try to hide but soon find out that their every move is being tracked by some super-advanced technology. The voice knows everything and they can only guess who is hacking into their personal belongings to track and control them.
14. 21 (2008)
Based on a real story, 21 is about a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students who somehow hacked into the casino system all by using their heads. It means that they trained themselves to count cards to win at every BlackJack game (hence the title), eventually dominating casinos in Vegas.
They were led by a man named Micky Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, who taught them the art of card counting. They team up, using codes and hand signals to win at every game. Of course, the casino owners suspected that something was going on. Someone must investigate why the house is losing. As the saying goes, “The House always wins.” Can they escape detection?
15. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (Black Mirror: Season 5, Episode 3; 2019)
Although all Black Mirror episodes are almost always weird in their own sense, Episode 3 of Season 5 takes it to another level. In this episode, teen superstar, Ashley, played by Miley Cyrus, is being controlled by her managers as is stereotypical of artists. She comes up with an AI doll called Ashley Too, which mimics the way she speaks and acts as a virtual companion to the teens who own the doll.
When the real Ashley disappears, one of the doll owners, Rachel, uncovers a deep secret that endangers the teen star. She and her brother hack into the doll’s AI system to save her. If you’re unsure what to watch on Netflix these days, you can head over to this episode of the British series and see how hacking is done in a strange futuristic setting.
16. Biohackers (2020)
This is one of those Netflix shows that are short and have only a few episodes but will get you hooked. Biohackers is a fast-paced thriller series that follows the story of a medical student. The student, Mia Auckland, discovers a cutting-edge biohacking technology within her university. Curious as to what they must be planning by keeping such a device secret, Mia goes on to investigate what’s really happening.
It’s a German series and one of the not-so-popular shows on Netflix that are worth watching if you give it a try! After all, it’s fun to watch something with glow-in-the-dark rats and gene-enhanced weed.
17. Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)
What would you do if you found out that your new laptop was a stolen one and the owner was watching you? This show is about a teen who finds himself exactly in that situation, but he doesn’t know just how much information his laptop’s previous owner is getting from him. He is watching his every move. Obviously, the owner wants his laptop back but why go to such great lengths to spy on him. What else could he be after?
18. The Great Hack (2019)
If you’re fond of Netflix shows that are based on real life, The Great Hack is actually a documentary that tells the story of how Cambridge Analytica got itself into a messy scandal. It is a Netflix Original Documentary that has received several Emmy nominations.
This show about hacking will show you just how disturbing the dark side of social media is. It even gives an inside look at how social media played its role to affect the 2016 US Presidential Election. It runs for about two hours but you would barely notice the time. What’s engaging about this documentary is that the story is told through the people who have been affected by the said scandal.
19. Control Z (2020)
As if high school is not already stressful enough, someone has been leaking students’ secrets to the entire school. This hacker is highly sophisticated and knows how to get into these students’ personal lives without detection. An introverted woman named Sofia begins to notice some strange patterns to these events and she starts working to uncover who is behind these leaks. The show currently only has one season with eight episodes but a second is in the works.
20. Cam (2018)
What do you think an ambitious camgirl would do if she woke up one day and found out she’s been replaced by a replica? Alice, the camgirl, discovers that her show has been taken over by an exact replica of herself. Her fanbase is just beginning to grow to huge numbers and she cannot let this happen. This can only be the work of someone with advanced technological knowledge, someone who is determined to steal her identity.
21. Unit 42 (2017)
This show is a Belgian series featuring a widowed cop who is tasked to lead a special cybercrime unit. As expected, these cybercriminals are highly skilled and difficult to track down. They are confronted with strange and almost undetectable codes. To have even the slightest chance of tracking down the criminals who are now terrorizing Belgium, they have to seek the help of a former hacker.
22. Criminal Minds (2005)
Fans of this show all know the fabulous Garcia who is the tech girl of the FBI’s elite criminal profiler team. She sits on her computer while the team goes out to study the behaviors mostly of serial killers and giving their profiles to police officers to help the FBI catch them. Garcia almost always gets the information within hours if not minutes, getting suspects’ credit card information, bank accounts, and even exact locations. Without her, this profiler team would get to nowhere.
If you want to add fun to your streaming experience, check out our guide on how to watch movies online with friends.
How Realistic Are Hacker Movies and Shows?
Hacking has become such a trope not only in Hollywood but also on TV shows around the world, and tech geeks are not their only fans. It is fun to watch someone doing their tech magic on their computer and achieving the impossible. If the hackers in the story are the antagonists, you either want them to get caught or are rooting for them to escape. Most of the time, your emotions are conflicted.
Hacker movies and shows are fun to watch because viewers are curious about the extent of what technology can really do in real life. But just how realistic are they? What do real-life famous hackers think and have to say about them?
Is Hacking Really That Quick and Easy?
If you notice, the last item on the list, Criminal Minds featuring Penelope Garcia portrays their hacker as someone who can get suspects’ information almost at lightning speed. Is hacking really that quick?
That really depends, but the short answer is no. Even elite FBI agents who have access to such advanced technology cannot simply produce personal information that quickly. Imagine having a suspect pool of thousands of people and narrowing that down based on a person’s physical appearance, whereabouts, credit card history, and so forth. That is not an easy task even for a highly-advanced computer. No matter how fast your servers are, the computer has a brain, though more powerful than a human’s, and it has to process those pieces of information before it can come up even with estimates.
How Realistic Are the Fancy Visuals?
In the movie Swordfish, for example, the hacker quickly breaks into security systems almost within seconds. The movie even used fancy effects such as moving geometric shapes appearing out of nowhere on the screen. While this is of course, far from reality, most viewers still accept it as part of their suspension of disbelief while watching the movie. Especially if a film is futuristic, it is “okay.” It is fiction, after all.
It’s Not Like Magic
Even real-life famous hackers don’t have magical powers to simply get into highly-secured systems. Hacking takes work and effort but most of all, time. Most of the time, hacker movies and shows don’t depict the real hard work computer geniuses put into hacking, even if it’s ethical hacking.
Ethical hackers are also called White Hats. They are certified by government organizations to perform ethical hacking in order to advance certain official programs for the sake of communities. Even then, it is still not like magic. Just because someone is legally certified to do so does not mean that they can do the job like magicians.
Hacker Movies Are Still Fun to Watch
In spite of hacker movies not being realistic enough, they are still a lot of fun to watch. They make you feel like you can do the same or at least, do something extraordinary with your skillsets. Above all, there is a lot of thrill, action, and intelligent writing in most of these hacker movies!
Who Are Famous Hackers in Real Life?
Of course, it would be interesting to know real-life famous hackers especially if you’re a tech geek. Not all of them are bad. Some have contributed greatly to our society. Here are some of them.
Poulsen named himself the “Dark Dante” and he became a famous hacker by using his deep knowledge of telephone systems. Once, he hacked into the phone lines of a radio station to set himself up as the winner of a contest. The prize got him a brand new Porsche, but his glory days did not last very long. He was soon added to the FBI’s most-wanted list when he proceeded to hack into their system to steal some wiretap information. They eventually tracked him down while he was shopping in a supermarket and was sent to prison with a fortune for a fine.
After his release in 1995, he became a journalist and started contributing to the journal, Wired. He even helped law enforcement when they allowed him to use and hack into their security systems. Poulsen was able to identify over 700 sex offenders on MySpace.
Robert Tappan Morris
Morris used to work as a computer scientist at Bell Labs as well as the NSA. To this day, he is known as the inventor of the first computer worm. A worm is a form of a virus that infiltrates computers, and they could be infected multiple times. This will eventually affect the speed of your computer. He was able to affect thousands of computers, rendering them unusable.
He was later caught and sentenced to three years of probation and some fines. Like Poulsen, he redeemed himself and used his hacking knowledge to become a professor at MIT.
You have probably used the security program, McAfee, at some point or at least, have heard of it. Blankenship is now working for the company as the head of product research. Before that, he mentored a group of hackers who called themselves the Legion of Doom. He even released a Hacker Manifesto, which he wrote while he was convicted. After his prison stint, Steve Jackson Games hired him but was once again arrested. He eventually gave up and that’s when he ended up in McAfee.
These are just some famous hackers, to name a few. There are still many out there who have changed their ways. Now, they are contributing positively to our society and cybersecurity.
Why Watch on Netflix?
Netflix is a great streaming platform for several reasons. It is definitely a great source of hacker movies if you are craving one. Here are some of those reasons.
Cord-Cutting at Its Finest
You have probably had a cable subscription or maybe owned a satellite dish in the past. As you know, these services are expensive and they make things complicated when you have to move houses. It’s also a complicated situation when you want to change service providers. The cord-cutting culture has solved this problem. Netflix is one of the best streaming services out there that solves this.
Unlike other streaming services, Netflix has no commercials, ever. It’s not like those platforms where you have to endure a couple of commercials if you pay a lower price. This gives the platform a huge advantage in terms of convenience and enjoyment. It’s not fun to watch a movie or a show when you’re interrupted by ads.
It is easy to search within their catalogs for certain movies or shows because of the categories. You can simply browse genres to look for movies especially if you are not sure what to watch on Netflix.
Netflix will give you recommendations for shows, movies, and documentaries based on what you’ve watched. That makes it easier to look for new shows to binge when your favorite shows run out of episodes.
To share your Netflix account with family or friends, all they would need is your password. They can create their own profiles and they each will have their own personalized recommendations as well. This way, you don’t get recommendations for shows that you don’t really like.
There are different types of subscriptions that dictate how many profiles you can create in one account. The basic one, which is priced at around $8, does not allow sharing. The next tier which comes at approximately $12 lets you share your account with up to two screens. The highest which is around $14 lets you share the account with up to four people.
There are many shows and movies on Netflix, which are in another language. The great thing about Netflix is that their subtitles are accurate. It’s also easy to turn the subtitle feature on and off in your settings.
How to Sign Up for Netflix
It is easy to create an account and get a subscription to Netflix. All you would need is an email address and your payment information. This applies to all devices whether you are using a mobile phone or a laptop. You cannot sign up directly through the app.
Simply visit the official Netflix website and choose from one of the plans mentioned above. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time. There are also no contracts so you can cancel your subscription whenever you want. Netflix accepts all major credit and debit cards. You can then stream your favorite shows or movies!
If you want to download movies, here is a guide on how to download movies on Netflix.
Netflix is a great streaming platform and you will definitely find a lot of hacker movies on it. So, go ahead and look at our list again and start watching!