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Matthew Broderick and Keanu Reeves Save the World, One Keyboard at a Time

The Internet can be a scary place, what with spammers, computer viruses and evildoers wielding global interconnectivity to do you harm. It’s a topic well-trodden in movies, and at the center of it are hackers — the heroes and villains of Web 2.0 who sit at their keyboards, ready to do e-battle. But not just anyone can play one of these whizzes. Hackers have to be witty, lightning quick with a keyboard, and of course geeky while still maintaining that handsome charm. These six actors have the role down to a science.

6. Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan_125x125.jpgYou’d certainly tend to think of Brosnan more as a ladykiller than a guy who spends his days in front of a computer terminal. But the truth is, he’s both. In Mars Attacks! (1996), and various lower-tech hack jobs in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and After the Sunset (2004), and you have a guy you shouldn’t trust around your PC.

5. Fisher Stevens
Stevens_125x125.jpgYou can’t get much more hacker cred than appearing in Hackers (1995), and as the evil Eugene “The Plague” Belford, Stevens proved than he can go up against Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie. True, he lost — but he certainly put up quite the e-fight. Plus, who could forget Stevens as one half of the team responsible for creating Johnny 5 in Short Circuit (1996)? To be fair, Johnny 5 was kind of hacked by lightning, not Fisher Stevens, but rewiring the robot counts, too.

4. Dan Aykroyd
Aykroyd_125x125.jpgThe only hacker movie more ultimate than Hackers is 1992’s Sneakers , in which Dan Aykroyd plays a conspiracy theorist computer whiz named “Mother” who joins Robert Redford’s team of misfits on a government contract to steal a codebreaking machine. Aykroyd’s skills are so advanced, he even found a back door into the afterlife as Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters (1984).

3. Justin Long
Long_125x125.jpgDespite the fact that Macs aren’t your typical hacking machines, the “I’m a Mac” guy is surprisingly adept at the skill. In Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Long is tasked by John McClane himself to help save America from the threat of cyber-terrorists. And in Accepted (2006), he creates an entirely fake University online just so he can have somewhere to go after high school graduation. As technology advances in the future, expect this young buck to be right there exploiting our fears of it with his perfected geek gravitas.

2. Matthew Broderick
Broderick_125x125.jpgIf there’s a movie that “started it all” when it comes to computer paranoia, it would have to be 1983’s WarGames . Matthew Broderick is one of the first movie hackers ever, first changing his grade on the school computer (a feat he would repeat with absences in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ), then hacking into the U.S. phone system, and finally bringing the country to the brink of nuclear armageddon with his crazy comp skills. Add in a propensity for computerized appendages in Inspector Gadget (1999), a knack for breaking into Air Force facilities in Project X (1987), and an animosity for his hacked wife in The Stepford Wives (2004), and you have the grand-daddy of all movie hackers.

1. Keanu Reeves
Keanu_125x125.jpgWho’s the most badass movie hacker of all time? Keanu, of course! Johnny Mnemonic (1995) started the cyberpunk revolution, with Reeves starring as the titular man so hardcore a hacker that his whole brain is a computer. And that’s about it. No other movies… I kid! The Matrix (1999) stars Reeves as a regular hacker going by the handle Neo, who finds out he’s actually been hacked himself by evil robots. Not only that, but he’s the savior of the entire human race. How’s that for computer nerd wish fulfillment?

Who’s your favorite Hollywood hack (and by that, I mean actor who has played a computer hacker)?

Click here for a complete schedule of WarGames on AMC.

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