If you’re wondering what cyberpunk is as it relates to cinema, then it’s easy enough to understand that it’s a sub-genre of science fiction, albeit one that is much darker, grittier, and carries an underlying message of the necessity of rebellion and the need to fight back against a dystopian future. In cyberpunk movie there is typically a protagonist that will either operate within the system in order to cause discord or one that has escaped the system and works from without in order to gather followers of like mind that will bring the system crashing down. Cyberpunk didn’t really become known as a sub-genre until the early 1980s, and by that time the films that would be labeled as such were growing in influence and had come to mean a great deal to the audiences of the world. In a way cyberpunk helps people to embrace the defiance that is a part our natural set of emotions. It reminds us that eventually, at some point, we all work against the system.
Here are some of the greatest examples of cyberpunk films.
5. The Matrix: Revolutions
This one might confuse you since in terms of CGI and overall story it wasn’t the best of the trilogy. In fact it just barely beats out the second movie for one reason alone: it was the conclusion to a story that many people thought had reached a satisfying end with the first movie. Agent Smith was gone, Neo was still alive, and he was openly challenging the Matrix. But then they went and created two more movies that started to drag the whole thing down. In the final movie at least there is a conclusion and some answers to the maddening questions that continued to plague viewers. Neo was a person, but he was also an anomaly that came along every so often to remind people of what real freedom was like, and what it took to obtain it.
4. The Terminator
“Sarah Connor?” “Yes?” BOOM. This movie got off to kind of slow start but once it was up and running it was action all the way. The Terminator took a lot of people by surprise since while it wasn’t entirely new it was edgy and unforgiving in the manner in which people died and how they were seen as mere pawns to be moved aside so that the Terminator could reach its target. An unstoppable killing machine that could reason and think for itself based on its prime directives was a horrifying thought and it only got worse as the franchise went on considering that each new Terminator that was sent back was something more powerful and much more deadly.
3. Blade Runner
Deckard is one of the prime examples of a person that wants to believe in the system but has seen the flaws of the system and therefore doesn’t know who to trust any longer. He’s the guy that wants everything to work the way it should and yet will rebel without much prompting since he has his own sense of wrong and right. Back in the Blade Runner days he was the antihero that was supposed to be the all-around good guy. The only problem was that he had issues with authority and tended to want to do things his way. The movie was slightly confusing unless you were watching everything like a hawk, but it’s been deemed as a classic at this point.
2. The Lawnmower Man
There was a point and time when VR was in its early stages and was thought as little more than a glorified video game, but we all know how that turned out right? This movie however didn’t seem to get enough love when it came out and it’s been largely forgotten by a lot of people. But think of the implications that were used in the film, and now think of what it might mean for those that were either born with some sort of mental defect or disorder or developed such a thing at some point in their lives. The untapped potential of the human brain that is sought after continually is a big topic of discussion in this film and the applications seem to be limitless, at least as far as Hollywood was concerned.
Just imagine this strolling down the street. A cop that has no built-in biases, has perfect aim, most of the time, and is incorruptible, unless his programmers have an agenda of their own. Robocop was a serious upgrade to the idea of an improved police force, but the resources used to build him and to keep him maintained were, even in the movie, astronomical. You can just imagine that in the real world a single department of cops outfitted like this would cost more that many cities can afford to spend.
Cyberpunk is definitely a lot darker and plays more to the part of the human psyche that simply loves to rebel. Perhaps that’s why it’s so popular.