August 24, 2016
It can be tough going to the movies as a cybersecurity expert. From the soapy stolen-identity flick “The Net” to the slick, punchline-packed take on surveillance depicted in “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Speed,” films handling the very real issues of internet security and modern computer science are overwhelmingly unrealistic (and far too reliant on Sandra Bullock).
Cybersecurity experts are a small and elite group, and, more often than not, feel the same way watching movies about our field that genuine medical doctors do as they watch Patrick Dempsey and Kate Walsh trade flirtatious one-liners over a flat-lining patient’s body on “Grey’s Anatomy,” or how forensic pathologists feel when watching CSI. It’s entertaining, perhaps, but not enough to counter the cringe.
This baseline frustration explains some of the crazy hype for “Snowden,” Oliver Stone’s hotly anticipated take on the most famous government whistle-blower of our time. Even the story of the film’s evolution is fascinating to those of us who work in the same fields as Snowden once did: Director Oliver Stone was so paranoid about the National Security Agency interfering in his project that he packed up cast and crew and moved the entire set to Germany — and even in Europe the long fingers of the U.S. government continued to stymie him throughout filming.
Snowden, the bashful, bespectacled geek who has single-handedly become both the hero and the villain of a global debate over internet surveillance, is enough of a figurehead today to draw in crowds for this film. The star-studded cast, which includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, also doesn’t hurt.
But as we get our tickets and popcorn ready, it’s a good time to take a look at the rare handful of film and TV projects that actually got hacking, and the complicated business of security in the cybersphere, right.