7 Movie Hackers Who Can’t Actually Hack

Computer crime is on the up. No thanks to this lot…

According to experts at the World Economic Forum, the threat of cyber crime is increasing every day.

Which is a shock to us movie geeks. After all, going by the flicks we’ve seen, computer hacking is about as realistic as Harry Potter.

Don’t believe us? Scroll down to see what happens when you apply actual logic to the sort of computer wiz-kids that inhabit the minds of movie-makers.

Kevin Flynn - Tron

What he can do: Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is a computer expert who hacks his way into a computer, physically. That’s right, he manages to put his body inside a computer. Which is a trick we wish was possible, especially when we’re looking at pictures of Megan Fox on our Mac.

Why he’d find real computers confusing: Sadly, it’s not possible to get your real-life body into a computer. The closest you can get is designing a fake body in World Of Warcraft and spending your whole life playing it.

Unfortunately, this can have negative effects on your real-world body, including BO, chubbiness and finger-cramp. Which is a lot less cool than riding a light-bike.


Optimus Prime – Transformers

What he can do: Prime hacks into eBay and uses it as a tool to track down Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf).

Despite the fact he’s able to get Witwicky’s address – and a picture of his face - from the auction site, Prime stills thinks his target’s name is Ladiesman217. We’re not sure why. It’s funny, though.

Why he’d find real computers confusing:
Once he got over the shock that the PC he’s using doesn’t transform into one of his mates, Prime would probably cry oily tears over the fact it’s difficult get photographs of anything other than general tat on eBay, and it’s actually quite hard to stalk someone using a page containing the details of a second hand pair of glasses as your only reference point.

David Levinson – Independence Day

What he can do: Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) uses a PC to trick an alien spaceship into giving an entire armada of extraterrestrials a computer virus. That’s the actual plot of Independence Day.

Why he’d find real computers confusing:
Using a man-made PC to interface with alien technology is so bafflingly illogical, we’re pretty sure that if Levinson encountered a real computer, he’d take it into the middle of a field, rest it on a cow’s back and expect it to turn into a meal after he typed B.U.R.G.E.R into the keyboard.


David Lightman - WarGames

What he can do: Lightman (Matthew Broderick) manages to accidentally hack into a military defence computer, gaining access to America’s nuclear arsenal via a charming chat-bot.

Why he’d find real computers confusing: Well, for one thing, the ministry of defence makes it pretty hard to hack into its systems when you’re deliberately trying to find a backdoor, let alone when you think you’re playing chess or whatever.

Still, Matthew can distract himself from the disappointment of not being able to start World War III by playing Command And Conquer and taking it really, really seriously.

Jobe Smith - The Lawnmower Man

What he can do: Smith (Jeff Fahey) used Virtual Reality to hack into every computer in the world, in an attempt to get reborn as a VR God. He was also able to use computers to make every telephone in the world ring out in unison. We’re not quite sure how he did that.

Why he’d find real computers confusing: For one thing, you don’t put on a chunky head-set to use them. For another, he’d probably find it quite disturbing that his god-like VR powers didn’t make it past 1993, when everyone realised that Virtual Reality was a bit of a fad.


Luther Stickell – Mission Impossible

What he can do: Stickell (Ving Rhames) is so good at hacking he can do it sitting in a steam-vent, which inexplicably has rats in it, via a head-set, in the headquarters of the CIA. Awesome.

Why he’d find real computers confusing: Laptops are much harder to operate when you don’t have a Tom Cruise marionette pushing the keys for you.

Gus Gorman - Superman III

What he can do: Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) first displays his godlike control of ‘80s computers by using his IBM PC to program two things at once, using BASIC.

He quickly puts those supreme powers to evil use, salami slicing large sums of money from his employer’s payroll.

Why he’d find real computers confusing:
Actually, he wouldn’t. Gorman was simply ahead of his time.

In 2008 a hacker managed to nick over $50,000 from Google Checkout and Paypal by stealing the tiny sums online payment services send out to prove new accounts are real.

The hacker designed a script that set up 58,000 accounts, sat back and got ready to count the money. Sadly, he was caught before he could spend it. Even sadder, the cops that came to collect him didn’t even bother to dress up as Superman. Spoilsports.


    • randomnoise

      Feb 4th 2009, 20:41

      "Well, for one thing, the ministry of defence makes it pretty hard to hack into its systems" Does it really? Then why are the US so keen to have Gary McKinnon extradited? He 'hacked' into US military systems by scanning for blank passwords It might seem like the implausible plot of a film, but in fact some US military systems really actually are that easy to hack into. in Wargames David has to do some research into thr programmer before he managed to get the password.

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    • Grasshopper

      Feb 5th 2009, 11:49

      Ah, but in Independence Day he can use USB to connect to the aliens - Universal serial bus - key's in the name, see? It's supected that the "Virus" he planted on their computers was actually Windows ME...

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    • Mart15

      Feb 14th 2009, 18:55

      What about Kevin Smith in Die Hard 4? Come to think about it, everyone except Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4? They do some crazy stuff by just tapping a few buttons. Regarding Independence Day - there's a deleted scene included in the extended edition where Jeff Golblum is left alone in the alien spaceship with his laptop. He was told not to touch anything and we never saw him do anything on-screen but there was the opportunity there to interface with the alien technology. In the theatrical version it did smack of deus ex machina, but if they'd given it time rather than jumping to the next part where stuff blows up, it could've been a bit more believable.

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    • somewhatfrail

      Feb 16th 2009, 21:02

      In Independence Day don't they say that all of today's technology was reverse engineered from the alien tech on the ship? Human computers, therefore, are descendants of what was once alien. (Wow, did I just actually excuse Roland Emmerich?)

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    • Wrighty1985V

      Apr 1st 2009, 6:17

      I would like to correct you totalfilm!!! 'Despite the fact he’s able to get Witwicky’s address – and a picture of his face - from the auction site, Prime stills thinks his target’s name is Ladiesman217. ' It is Baricade refers to Sam as Ladiesman...''Are you username Ladiesman217??'' Prime..if you watch the film again you'll realise..asks him ''are you Sam Whitwicky?'' It is Prime that EXPLAINS to Sam that they got his details from Ebay.He does NOT think his name is ladiesman...how could you possibly get that wrong?

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    • pahakeisari

      Apr 9th 2009, 14:04

      This is a topic I've long been interested in, of course movies make reality blunders often out of ignorance, they don't see it'd matter to artistic vision or box office profits. It's to be expected, movies have never had anything close to believable fiction compared to books. (Case in point: sci-fi, star trek tng was the only one that made an effort.) Sometimes technical audience also raise useless points, like "this is unix" line in jurassic park, I had that very similar 3rd filemanager on irix at the time and didn't see any problem with the plot. Of course it's not what unix-systems generally "look like" but if she was familiar with the application she could very well say it was a unix system. And it was much more believable than "Hollywood OS"s usually are. Best movie rendition of a hacker I've seen so far is probably in movie Takedown (aka Hackers 2). While not the greatest movie in traditional measures I'd still recommend anyone to see it. I just hope in future we'd see more movies written for the technical audience, with realistic depiction of gradual progress over time, instead of childish action sequences and "hack the pentagon while receiving a b*****b" like in Swordfish.

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    • Ladiesman217

      Apr 18th 2011, 4:41

      huh.... about Transformer... did you watch the movie ?? it was not Prime nor an Autobot who asked him, it was one the Decepticon... it's was even more funny to read that one a "film website" hmm...

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