Even before technology had started to take over our lives, movies envisioning its future have been popping up through the years. With the advent of the internet, social media, advanced robotics and hacker groups, the films dealing with these subjects branched out and we now have more of them than ever before. If you’re a fan of movies that explore technology as it is or how it could be, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting films and TV shows you can start watching.
Some deal with current issues, such as hacking/whistleblowing with the help of technology or with questions we might ask of ourselves in the future, such as: if machines gain sentience, are they less or more than human?
Others have already become cult classics while a couple are just waiting to be discovered, so let’s jump right in.
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
This biographical drama begins in 1971 and stretches all the way to 1997 and it’s based on the books “Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer”, by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine.
The film explores the rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as well as the impact they have had on the development of what will be known as the personal computer.
The Thirteenth Floor (1999)
This neo-noir film is also based on a novel, Simulacron-3, written in 1964 by Daniel F. Galouye. In it, a high-tech visionary, Douglas, and his colleague Whitney have opened a door to a virtual world set in 1937, on the thirteenth floor of the building they are based in.
However, Douglas soon becomes prime suspect in the murder of the project’s leader. In order to exonerate himself, he has to jump in the virtual reality he has created, where he will find out some truths about himself he maybe would not have wanted to know.
Takedown (also known as Track Down) (2000)
Takedown is based on a real story: the capture of notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick.
The movie is based on the book Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw—By the Man Who Did It by Tsutomu Shimomura and it is directed by Joe Chappelle with Skeet Ulrich playing Mitnick.
Ex Machina (2015)
In this film, a young programmer gets the chance to be a part of a scientific experiment that requires him to Turing-test an intelligent female android. As the film progresses however, you begin to wonder: are they testing the machine or is the machine testing them?
The movie stars Domhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander and has won a number of awards following its release, as well as largely positive reviews.
In Tenet, a CIA agent called simply The Protagonist, discovers that, with the help of a newly discovered technology, the flow of time can be manipulated. After being taught how to do it, he has to prevent an attack that has not happened yet in the present timeline, an attack that might destroy the world.
The movie, which stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh and Elizabeth Debicki, has been quite successful upon release and only time will tell if it will become a classic in the genre or not.
Dark Web: Cicada 3301 (2021)
You might have heard about Cicada 3301 if you’ve been on the internet long enough. Some say it’s a recruiting tool for a secret society, while others think it might be nothing more but a very elaborate game.
This movie is based on this online mystery but follows a hacker called Connor, who has to outrun NSA agents in a race to uncover all the real-world clues of this so-called ‘treasure hunt’.
The Conversation (2002)
This Francis Ford Coppola-directed movie stars Gene Hackman as a surveillance expert who is hired to tail a young couple.
He becomes obsessed with one of their conversations and starts to believe that the couple is actually in danger. Haunted by the memory of a past case that ended badly, he has to decide on the best course of action.
This short begins with a young female hacker who wakes up with an iPhone glued to her hand. On the phone there is a countdown, ticking away towards zero.
She remembers nothing but she seems to have gone through a traumatic event, so she begins a race against time trying to find out what happened to her and what will come to pass once the clock strikes zero.
The Machine (2014)
The Machine is a low-budget film with high hopes and it is a hidden gem of the genre.
In it, Ava, played by Caity Lotz, is a humanoid robot created to be used as a weapon. She is a success for the scientists that have developed her, however a programming bug soon causes her to gain a mind of her own and proceed to destroy everything and everyone in her path on her way to freedom.
This movie, made on a budget of only $7,000 follows two engineers that accidentally invent a time machine. Soon enough they discover that creating this technology comes with some pretty serious consequences.
In this French movie, a woman wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no memory of who she is and how she got there. Worse: she is running out of air and the AI in charge of her pod is not very helpful.
This slightly claustrophobic movie takes place in just the cryo pod, but it does not get boring for a moment: if anything, it builds up the tension to a reveal that might or might not shock you.
Movies Where Technology Has Taken Over
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
This cyberpunk movie is a classic. Based on a story written by the ‘father of cyberpunk’ William Gibson, it stars Keanu Reeves as a data courier who carries information inside his brain, for a fee, and delivers it to the recipients.
Unfortunately, his latest job involves a data package far too large for him to hold on to for a long time, and so a race against time -and other villains- begins.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky and shot in high contrast black and white, Pi follows the story of a mathematician obsessed with finding a number that will unlock the secrets of the Universe.
Set not too far in the future, in a world without crime where every citizen’s thoughts are recorded, this movie follows a detective who becomes intrigued when he meets a young woman whose information is not available to him, or anyone else.
Metropolis is, by far, one of the most influential Sci-fi films ever made and we can still see its influence in a lot of movies even in the year 2022. It tells the story of a utopian city of the future, which exists above an underworld largely populated by workers who are mistreated.
When one of the privileged youths who live in the upper city discovers the truth about how the other people live beneath the city, he sets on a journey to help them.
The Matrix (1999)
A movie that has reached beyond cult status, The Matrix doesn’t really need an introduction. It has become a classic that has inspired numerous other films that followed it and the story of Thomas Anderson aka Neo, who fights against the machines that have constructed the reality he’s living in is one that we will watch a rewatch for years to come.
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Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner was a movie before its time and even after all this time, this Ridley Scott film has remained a staple not only of the genre but of cinema in general.
In it, a young Harrison Ford plays a Blade Runner – a special agent who is tasked with exterminating a few replicants (androids) who have turned violent.
Shot in a noir style, the movie raises questions about identity, the future of robotics as well as that of our own planet.
Minority Report (2002)
Based on a short story written by Phillip K. Dick, Minority Report envisions a future where cops can catch criminals before the crimes are committed. However, the reliability of the technology comes into question when one of the cops, played by Tom Cruise, is accused of a crime himself. Almost immediately, he has to go on the run in order to prove his innocence.
In a society where the genetically superior can easily achieve their dreams, a man whose genes are inferior assumes the identity of someone else in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut.
The film, which stars a young Ethan Hawke alongside Uma Thurman and Jude Law, explores themes such as genetic manipulation and eugenics.
In a world where youth is extremely desirable, an aging woman finds herself out of a job and unable to secure any interviews for another position as she does not look young anymore.
However, in order to ensure her daughter will be sent to an elite school, she agrees to become the test subject for a new rejuvenation procedure.
Logan’s Run (1976)
While this film and its costumes might strike us as a little camp, it is a classic that deserves a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
In the year 2274 people live in a domed city and are expected to die by the time they turn 30. It is their belief that they will reincarnate soon after and be able to relive the same hedonistic and easy lifestyle they always had.
There are those called ‘runners’ among these people however, and they know the truth, a truth which law enforcement officer Logan will soon face when he goes undercover trying to locate the secret refuge the ‘runners’ go to.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Before there was The Matrix, there was Ghost in The Shell. A Japanese animation directed by Mamoru Oshii with a soundtrack filled with haunting, unforgettable music by Kenji Kawai.
In it, federal agent Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg, tries to catch The Puppet Master, a person that hacks into the minds of cyborg-human hybrids. During this chase, Motoko starts asking her own questions and ponders on what it means to be human.
TV Shows About Technology
Mr. Robot (2015 – 2019)
Rami Malek plays Elliot, a cyber-security engineer that suffers from anxiety. By day, he works for a corporation, a job he dislikes, and by night, he hacks criminals. However, his life soon changes when an anarchist that goes by the name Mr. Robot asks Elliot to join him.
Halt and Catch Fire (2014 – 2017)
The series starts in the early 1980’s when three people join forces to create a computer that will change the world via a rogue project that involves reverse-engineering IBM technology.
Black Mirror (2011 – 2019)
This TV show is one of a kind. Each episode explores a range of different genres but they all revolve, in some way or another to technology. Be it a dystopian nightmare, satire or speculative fiction, you’re bound to find an episode that will stick with you for a long time.
In this short-lived TV show, a homeland cybersecurity team tries to fight against a rogue AI that has the ability to improve itself and learn from its mistakes.
In this miniseries we follow a computer engineer who suspects a computing firm is responsible for her boyfriend’s disappearance. She takes it upon herself to investigate the company and its CEO.
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Altered Carbon (2018 – 2020)
This series is based on the novel by the same name by Richard K. Morgan. It’s set 300 years in the future when humanity is now able to shift consciousness into new bodies, which means that death is not something to worry about anymore.
Takeshi Kovacs is one of the people whose mind has been imprisoned however after he and his group of interstellar fighters were defeated after causing an uprising. He is reawakened by a wealthy businessman centuries later, who offers him the chance to live again in a new body, as long as he solves a murder mystery.
Movies Where Technology Is Bad
A wife uploads her deceased husband’s consciousness into a supercomputer that allows him to continue living. With endless computing power at his fingertips, he soon begins to make groundbreaking discoveries but soon enough his wife starts to wonder if she’s made the right choice as he begins to exhibit strange behaviors.
The Circle (2017)
Mae, played by Emma Watson, gets her dream job at one of the largest tech companies in the world. Soon she is involved in an experiment that promises to change the world. However, she soon starts to realize there’s more to the experiment than she thought.
The movie also stars Tom Hanks and John Boyega and is the last film actor Bill Paxton starred in before his death in the same year.
Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)
The debut film of acclaimed director Panos Cosmatos is a visual trip that the viewers either love or hate, but the fact still remains that Beyond The Black Rainbow leaves a lasting impression.
In it, a heavily sedated woman called Elena tries to escape from the Arboria Institute where she is being held captive by the obsessive leader of Arboria, who is trying to study her unique abilities.
What would this list be without this 90’s classic? The movie stars Johnny Lee Miller and a yet-to-be-famous Angelina Jolie and follows the story of a hacker who discovers a plot that threatens to unleash a lethal virus that can cause a global ecological disaster. He and his group of hacker friends have to do everything in their power to stop it.
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Inception is part hacker film, part romance story and part heist film but it is a compelling watch nonetheless.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, with an unforgettable score composed by Hans Zimmer and a star-studded cast consisting of, but not limited to Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Joseph-Gordon Levitt, the film is now a classic.
In it, we follow a group of people who, with the help of a mysterious technology, can enter people’s dreams and steal information from them. Soon enough, they get recruited by a wealthy businessman who needs their help to gain advantage over his main business competitor.
A freelance hacker comes across a government computer program and, after he breaks into it, his life changes forever.
WHO AM I (2014)
This German thriller film follows a computer genius who is invited by a hacker group to join them. However, soon after associating with the group, he finds himself in deep waters with Russian gangsters as well as the Europol.
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A young hacker finds a back door online that allows him to enter a military central computer where reality mixes in with gaming. However, his intrusion might cause the start of World War III.
A group of experts who specialize in testing security systems is blackmailed into stealing an important black box. From then on, the team gets caught up in a life or death game and they have to use their knowledge to prove their innocence and escape with their lives.
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Half hacker film and half technological horror flick, this story follows Tasya Vos, an assassin that uses brain-implant technology that allows her to control other people’s bodies and carry out assassinations while flying completely under the radar.
Every Step You Take (2007)
This investigative documentary takes a critical look at the massive amount of CCTV found in the United Kingdom (around 4 million surveillance cameras). In it, the director tries to find answers to the questions of why, how and has it all been a success or a curse for all those involved?
Hackers Are People Too (2008)
In this documentary we follow the lives of the hacker community. While it does not focus on the technical history of hacking, it does put an emphasis on the people behind the screen, addressing stereotypes and misunderstandings in a fresh and humorous but honest way.
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)
This documentary aims to offer a closer look at the hacktivist group Anonymous, how they started and what they are trying to achieve.
Director Dominic H. White explores how digital communication has affected the way we interact with each other and explores the impact social media, smartphones, online gaming and other technical advancements has had on our society.
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This award-winning documentary explores free speech online, democracy and innovation in the virtual space and how censorship might affect it in the future.
The Hacker Wars (2014)
Featuring stories of trolls and prodigy hackers among many others, this documentary tries to shed more light on hacktivism in the United States and offers a front-row seat to how the battle for internet freedom and privacy looks like.
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