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What hollywood doesn't know about computers...
June 23, 2011 7:37 AM   Subscribe

What are some of the cheesiest on-screen 'hacking' scenes?

I need to put together a playlist of video clips showing hollywood style 'hacking' at it's worst. Scenes like

It's a Unix System from Jurassic Park

"It'll be the hardest trace they've ever heard" from Sneakers

TV or movies are fine
posted by nomisxid to Computers & Internet (48 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
War Games is full of them.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:39 AM on June 23, 2011


Hackers is one long bad 90s computer nerd movie.
posted by TheBones at 7:40 AM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Swordfish
posted by sanka at 7:40 AM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, you can't really go wrong with Hackers.
posted by odinsdream at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Sneakers is actually pretty believable compared to things like Hackers, The Net, and Swordfish.
posted by demiurge at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maxim (eww) link to 13 Hackiest Hacking Moments. Has Swordfish, The Net, Independence Day, War Games, etc...
posted by ephemerista at 7:42 AM on June 23, 2011




Weird Science is the king, but they weren't really going for plausibility.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:43 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Antitrust is one of my very favourite bad movies, and there are some hilarious "hacking" scenes—in which, IIRC, they seem to be using a real *nix shell, and real shell commands, but to do utterly ridiculous things.
posted by Zozo at 7:45 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The scene from Goldeneye:

"SEND SPIKE"
"TO SEND SPIKE PRESS ENTER"
"SPIKE SENT"

stands out in my memory.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:46 AM on June 23, 2011


TVTropes: Hollywood Hacking
posted by djb at 7:49 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This clip from NCIS tends to prove that Hollywood doesn't even understand how keyboards work.
posted by saladin at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2011 [19 favorites]


You might want to know that scene in Jurassic Park depicts an actual file manager that was available on IRIX systems.

Pretty much everything else computer-related in that movie was in fact ridiculous, though.
posted by makeitso at 7:55 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The Net" has to be one of the most difficult movies to watch for me solely due to its misunderstanding on how computers really work. As far as cheesy, some good scenes in there...in particular the one where a virus graphically eats away the display as a show that its doing something that the bad guys don't want it doing...
posted by samsara at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I came here link that NCIS clip. By far the best of the bunch.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:08 AM on June 23, 2011


While this doesn't necessarily contain any clips per se, there's a great Tumblr-like blog called Access Main Computer File that is, according to its About page, "A visual study of computer GUI in cinema."

Just mouse over each image and it'll tell you the film. Again, no video clips (that I know of), but it could at least serve as inspiration!
posted by mrhaydel at 8:09 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a scene towards the end of Batman and Robin where Robin "hacks" Mr. Freezes ray gun (or something) but needs Batgirls help to do it because the screen is upside down.
posted by blunt_eastwood at 8:12 AM on June 23, 2011


I came here link that NCIS clip. By far the best of the bunch.

That just reminded me. In on of the earlier seasons of 24 there was a scene where some computery espionage was occurring at command central. Apparently a superhacker had infiltrated their systems and they couldn't figure out how he got their their impenetrable "firewall." Oh what a twist! He bypassed the firewall by using the power lines to the PCs instead. Take that CCIE's!
posted by samsara at 8:14 AM on June 23, 2011


Criminal Minds.
posted by prefpara at 8:24 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related MetaFilter thread about the Tumblr-type site Access Main Computer File. Note: put your cursor over the images for the movie title and release year to be displayed on the left side of the image. The discussion thread has more examples of fake computers in TV shows and movies.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:27 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or as mrhaydel mentioned in part above.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2011


djb: ""I'll create a GUI interface in Visual Basic, see if I can track an IP address" "

Well, a good GUI is important for usability, especially if your users are not familiar with the command prompt. If CSI is a .NET environment, Visual Basic is a good language to create a quick program.

Personally, I would have used FORTRAN.
posted by metl_lord at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2011


It's not meant to be serious, but there's the "the files are in the computer?" scene from Zoolander.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:31 AM on June 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


General Hospital has a character whose sole purpose is to open his laptop and "hack" into security cameras, police records, etc. Just search for Spinelli and you'll get a plethora of cheese.
posted by litnerd at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The Great Computer Caper" episode of Silver Spoons fits this criteria perfectly. As an added bonus, this episode also includes a crossover appearance from Gary Coleman in his Arnold Jackson character from Diff'rent Strokes.
posted by The Gooch at 8:47 AM on June 23, 2011


Weird Science has a good goofy hacking scene complete with 1985 graphics.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:52 AM on June 23, 2011


I think the award for most cringe worthy scene goes to NBC's Life: Playing Prince of Persia to decrypt files
posted by WhitenoisE at 9:17 AM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is almost an entire genre on YouTube:

Numb3rs' Description of IRC, plus bonus taking of screenshot, because apparently their hacker doesn't know about logs.

NCIS Double Hacking, where the chick is typing uh, magical counter hacking code that works despite the fact hundreds of windows are flashing about constantly stealing focus.

Just poke around the related videos from there.
posted by Su at 9:30 AM on June 23, 2011


Predating most of this awesomeness, some classic hacking from one of the greatest TV shows of all time...

Max Headroom:

Theora Jones, hacks a urinal @11:20 or so
Theora and Bryce have a hacker war, controlling elevators, doors, and even a barricade with you-know-what written on it, starting at 19:30 ish.

Pretty much every Bryce scene in the whole series features some awesomely flagrant "hacking-as-magic" stuff.
posted by Shepherd at 10:18 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, and also while not technically "hacking", the PREMISE of Max Headroom is that a computer-genius kid takes a man's damaged brain and converts it into a piece of software that commandeers television channels and has a lucrative sideline flogging diet soda. There is also that.
posted by Shepherd at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This clip from NCIS tends to prove that Hollywood doesn't even understand how keyboards work.

Another NCIS episode (I sometimes watch because I worked with one of the cast once before they got "big") is entirely about hacking, involving someone hiding encrypted data in an online game (I think the deal was that you had to play until you got score higher than this specific number, and then you could access the screen with the encrypted data).

The whole episode is kind of ridiculous, but at the end there's a scene where they're racing against a countdown towards the automated "upload" of a new game which will release this encrypted code to thousands of gamers and damage national security or whatthefuckever; you've got the computer-expert agent back in the office trying to talk his boss through the on-site security system (the expert in the office has "hacked in" to the computer, you see, and can see where all the traps are). He's also supposed to walk his boss through "cancelling the program", but his boss deals with the situation by simply shooting the hell out of the computer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on June 23, 2011


This scene from Eagle vs. Shark is a slightly NSFW take on the trope.
posted by jeffkramer at 11:08 AM on June 23, 2011


I remember a scene in '24' where Jack Bower broke into a old POS car, found a smartphone or something and hacked into and redirected a missle in flight.
posted by CodeMonkey at 11:14 AM on June 23, 2011


Law and Order: SVU had an episode called "Avatar" with a knockoff Second Life playing a huge role. Most of that whole episode consists of cringe worthy hacking scenes.
posted by gemmy at 12:00 PM on June 23, 2011


Not hacking, but definitely needs to be posted while we're on the subject:

ENHANCE!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


gemmy: "Law and Order: SVU had an episode called "Avatar" with a knockoff Second Life playing a huge role. Most of that whole episode consists of cringe worthy hacking scenes"

CSI: NY had an episode all about the "real" Second Life. (enhanced for TV, of course)
posted by wierdo at 1:16 PM on June 23, 2011


At the start of True Lies, Arnie starts up a Windows 3 PC which makes a Mac chime sound.
posted by i_cola at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2011




Naturally I can't find a video on youtube (sorry!) but there's the super mega rolling on the floor laughing cheesy visual hacking scene in the Tekwar intro movie, where a hacker basically sits in a chair with a couple wires pointing toward her eyes and hacks into things by waving her hand around like a total goober.

... Man, when I was fifteen I thought that looked so cool.

It's available streaming on Netflix, which is how I found it again.
posted by Heretical at 2:08 PM on June 23, 2011


Not directly on point, but related. There's a web page, Hacker Typer, that allows you to look like you're programming/"hacking" like they do in the media.
posted by jefftang at 2:26 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love Hacking the Gibson, Penn Gillette, Angelina Jolie and some other familiar faces, and some great, silly animations.
posted by theora55 at 4:47 PM on June 23, 2011


Really. You don't think that spinny chair in swordfish is the worst? How about the scene in MasterMinds (with patrick stuart - although he's not in this scene) to steal a game prior to it's release. Over a phone modem. With a castle and guards and everything.
posted by filmgeek at 4:53 PM on June 23, 2011


Old school Whoopie Goldberg et al. in Jumpin' Jack Flash :D
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:05 PM on June 23, 2011


I think swordfish takes the cake. Spinning cubes aligning to compile code?!?

Actually, when do they get it right? I imagine real hacking is not very glamourous or exciting to watch.
posted by Admira at 10:54 PM on June 23, 2011


May only be tangentially related, but there's a scene in (I think) Die Hard 4 where some computer display shows traffic flow in a way that would, I believe, be impossible.
posted by TangoCharlie at 11:38 PM on June 23, 2011


Nthing hacker typer above. You can feel like a l88t hackerz dood.
posted by lalochezia at 8:26 AM on June 24, 2011


This is a coy answer but: all of them. It's harder to think of instances of Hollywood not being stupid where computers are involved.

Frankly, I don't blame them. Watching someone type is pretty damn boring.
posted by chairface at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2011


Not technically hacking, but there's the byte-triggered bomb from Blown Away, where a crying woman has to keep typing OR THE COMPUTER WILL BLOW UP! And the RAM is filling up with characters, so soon there are only 24 bytes left! Will Jeff Bridges defuse the bomb in time?
posted by martinrebas at 1:30 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


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