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Best Cyberpunk Movies

The Best Cyberpunk Movies you absolutely must watch

From Blade Runner to Tetsuo and eXistenZ: an overview of the cyberpunk through some of the best movies in the genre

After the great appreciation given on these channels to the special dedicated to the best samurai movies, we’re back in charge with another ranking full of recommendations dedicated to the cyberpunk, a beloved and popular narrative genre that was born in the 1980s as a subgenre from science fiction and immediately experienced great popularity across numerous artistic fields, from literature to film, through comic books, TV series, video games and even music (remember in this regard the famous album ‘Cyberpunk’ by Billy Idol, but also Kid A by Radiohead).

A number of precursors can be traced in twentieth-century history, among them Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis or the works of Philip K. Dick (and the term ‘cyberpunk’ is coined by Bruce Bethke for the 1983 short story of the same name). However, it is to the author William Gibson who is generally credited with clearing cyberpunk into the literary realm, with novels such as Neuromancer (soon to become a TV series for Apple TV+), Mona Lisa Cyberpunk and Count Zero, the first cyberpunk works to gain major artistic recognition such as the Hugo and Nebula awards.

William Gibson interview for the 30th anniversary of Neuromancer

Since then, all those stories, often pessimistic and almost always set in the more or less near future, that deal with the uncontrolled development of technology and society, the fusion of the body with the machine, the Internet or cyberspace, giant and oppressive metropolises ruled by multinational corporations, all of which we will find in the titles mentioned in the next paragraphs. Without further ado, then, here are the best cyberpunk movies to watch no matter what.

Blade Runner

Absolute progenitor of the genre, Blade Runner coined the entire film aesthetic of cyberpunk to which all subsequent works would be inspired in one way or another: from the multi-ethnic society mesmerized by neon advertisements to the eternally dark and rainy skies, the work is also a reinterpretation in a futuristic and existentialist key of the classic detective figure of film noir and hard-boiled cinema.

Blade Runner 1982

What makes Blade Runner unique is the fact that, in its total perfection, varying the order of the scenes or subtracting some to add others – as happened in the various versions: original cut, director’s cut and final cut – you can achieve two complementary but also diametrically opposed works: one the love story between a man and a machine, the other the story of a man who discovers he is a machine. Among the themes addressed are William Blake and his fallen angels in search of their God, the primal power of memories, and, above all, the importance of the gaze (and thus the eyes, which are omnipresent) in defining the nature of an individual.

Tetsuo

Tetsuo is probably The most physical, tactile, and perverse cyberpunk film ever created: somewhere between horror and surrealism and largely influenced by the subgenre that the Japanese call ‘tokusatsu‘ and which in the West we might relate to the film ‘full of handcrafted special effects’ referred to in hushed tones as ‘b-movies’ (Sam Raimi and The House 2, for immediate comparison).

Tetsuo

Tetsuo tells the story of an unnamed Japanese office worker who wakes up one day to find that he has pieces of metal sticking out of various parts of his body. Haunted by visions of metal-oriented sexual fantasies, we follow his gradual and inexorable transformation into a new being, a hybrid of man and machine, as he develops an ambiguous connection with a traffic accident victim who is apparently undergoing a similar transformation.

eXistenZ

Turn-of-the-century masterpiece signed by David Cronenberg, whose cinema is very often related to cyberpunk (if not always in genres certainly in philosophy), eXistenZ follows Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a game designer who finds herself targeted by assassins because of a virtual reality game of his own creation.

eXistenZ

With a cast that also includes Jude Law, Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston and Willem Dafoe, the film won the Silberner Bär for outstanding artistic contribution at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival and remains to this day – indeed, perhaps today more so than then – an important reflection on the extent of the mind beyond the body, on the fusion of the physical and the digital.

Johnny Mnemonic

Inspired by the novel of the same name by William Gibson, the ‘father of cyberpunk’ mentioned in the opening who also wrote the screenplay here, Johnny Mnemonic is signed by artist and photographer Robert Longo with Keanu Reeves playing Johnny (where did you think Johnny Silverhand came from from the video game Cyberpunk 2077?), a ‘data courier’ who transports sensitive information by having it implanted directly into the brain. The legendary Takeshi Kitano is also in the cast, not forgetting Dolph Lundgren, Ice-T, Dina Meyer and Udo Kier.

Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic Is the quintessential 1990s cyberpunk, with all the dogma of the genre: a near future (the 1995 production imagines a dystopian America of 2021) in which technology is practically a plague, conspiracies are everywhere, and mega-corporations rule the world from the heights of their glittering palaces. At the bottom, there is organized crime (the Yakuza, another cyberpunk fixation) that controls the streets, the slums, the devastation.

Strange Days

Among the ten best films of the 1990s, those single ten that should be taken and kept in a museum to remember what, amidst the highs and lows, that decade represented for Hollywood, is definitely Strange Days, Kathryn Bigelow’s immortal masterpiece written by James Cameron. Set over the last two days of 1999, on the threshold of the New Millennium (filmed in 1995) and centered on the story of smuggler Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), who works through an electronic device that allows the user to experience recorded memories and physical sensations of other people (another idea taken from the video game Cyberpunk 2077) and who one day comes across diskette containing the memory of the murderer of a prostitute.

Best Cyberpunk Movies 1

The paranoia and social hysteria of a Los Angeles on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but, above all, a voyeuristic and experimental techno-thriller that plays with expressive means and points of view, that defies Hollywood conventions of identification and involvement by quantum superconductor interference device blows. Strange Days a blast to watch even today, for the interracial couple and the ideas in Cameron’s writing, as well as the mastery of a director the world seems to have forgotten about.

Other Cyberpunk movies to catch up on

And if these five titles were not enough for you (or if perhaps you have already seen them all), here then are other movies, more or less recent, to absolutely consider in the boundless production of cyberpunk:

  • Akira (animated film)
  • Upgrade
  • Robocop
  • The Zero Theorem
  • Ghost in the Shell (animated film)
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Judge Dredd
  • Mute
  • Minority Report
  • Videodrome
  • Brainstorm
  • Hardware
  • Matrix
  • Total Recall
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Dark City
  • Gattaca
  • Nirvana
  • Hackers
  • Automata
  • Elysium
  • Humandroid
  • Ex Machina
  • Reminiscence

For other readings and other genres, discover these 8 unknown Italian western films to catch up on to relive the glorious era of the spaghetti western.

Matteo Regoli

critica i film, poi gli chiede scusa si occupa di cinema, e ne è costantemente occupato è convinto che nello schermo, a contare davvero, siano le immagini porta avanti con poca costanza Fatti di Cinema, blog personale

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