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33 Essential Cyberpunk Movies (Updated Sep. 2021)

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

The following list is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all that is Cyberpunk. Instead, the following movies are those which have left a lasting impression on me. While not all are pure cyberpunk (if there is such a thing), each features elements of cyberpunk in some way, shape, or form. So, without further ado, here is the list of my most essential cyberpunk movies.

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Directed by Ridley Scott

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick

Although I hadn't even heard of cyberpunk the first time I watched Blade Runner, it is widely considered one of the most influential the genre has to offer. It's a terrific movie with a great story supported by a great cast. I actually enjoy it considerably more than Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - the Philip K. Dick story for which the movie is based. That being said, as you scroll through this list, you'll begin to see just how influential Philip K. Dick has been on cyberpunk.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

I actually can't remember how old I was when I first saw Robocop, but I'm sure it was too young for the level of violence present in the film. Regardless, Robocop remains an all time favorite and a movie I watched endlessly as a teen.

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo

After watching Ghost in the Shell, it sparked my interest in anime, so I decided to check out Akira, which had a very promising looking cover. To be honest, I did not care much for Akira at the time, and later barely even remembered watching it, but over the years I kept telling myself I'd eventually go back to see if it was because I was too young to appreciate it. I actually watched it in the last couple years and think I understand what I didn't like about it; the movie is disturbing. That being said, I am much more appreciate of the movie, especially considering it was made in 88, years ahead of its time. Although some of the characters are one-dimensional and obnoxious, it's worth seeing for the art alone.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Based on a story by Philip K. Dick

Verhoeven followed up Robocop with Total Recall, another movie based on a Philip K. Dick story: We Can Remember it for You Wholesale. When I watched this movie as a child, I found the plot thoroughly confusing, but, at the time, I didn't mind so much because there was plenty of action to distract away from the story. After all, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, the same guy who had provided so much entertainment in movies like Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, Red Sonja, Commando, and Predator. But, even though there is plenty of action to be seen, the story is actually far more thought provoking than it gets credit.

Directed by Richard Stanley

Although Hardware is far from my favorite entry on this list, it has a very cool setting that left me wanting more. The setup is pretty basic thriller fare, but the world it is set in is very interesting a unique.

Directed by Albert Pyun

Okay, this movie definitely needs a disclaimer because it has some glaring problems that are immediately apparent within minutes of viewing it. The dialogue is unintentionally laughable at times and the writing/plot has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, but if you can get past these issues, this movie has a lot to offer for fans of cyberpunk. It's got cyborgs. It's action packed. It's got some cool special effects (though not all are of the same quality), and its overall a fun viewing experience as long as one doesn't go in expecting a movie on the same caliber as The Matrix.

Directed by Marco Brambilla

Admittedly, this movie is a bit ridiculous, but it's also a ton of fun, once you are able to suspend disbelief for the entire runtime. Also, it only loosely meets the high tech/low life qualifications I have for cyberpunk, but I'm including it on the lst because it's my list.

Directed by Danny Cannon

Another Stallone flick, though this one is a much bigger mess from start to finish. It deviates pretty heavily from the comics and it's tone is not nearly as dark or violent, but it meets my simple cyberpunk standards and was undoubtedly influential in my own personal life.

Directed by Christian Duguway

Based on a story by Philip K and screenplay by Dan O'Bannon & Miguel Tejada-Flores

This movie may be low budget, but it has enough talent to keep it entertaining. It stars Peter Weller - Robocop himself - and was based off a story by Philip K. Dick (Second Variety) and written for the screen by Dan O'Bannon - of Alien fame - and Miguel Tejada-Flores, who interestingly enough also had a hand writing movies as diverse as Revenge of the Nerds and The Lion King. Although some of the acting leaves much to be desired, its an absolute classic in my book.

Directed by Robert Longo

Written by William Gibson

A pre-Matrix Keanu Reeves stars in this cyberpunk movie written by William Gibson. Although the movie is not the greatest the genre has to offer, it does have a cool atmosphere and it's stuck with me over the years. Also, I've got to believe it helped Reeves get the part of Neo, which is influential in and of itself.

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

I picked this up on a whim back when it first his VHS. I believe it's the first anime I ever watched and, though I didn't appreciate it (or fully understand it) much at the time, there are elements that have really stuck with me over the years.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Written by James Cameron

This dark cyberpunk thriller has a great cast including Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, a several other familiar faces. Upon first viewing Strange Days back when it was released to video, I remember finding the movie's plot hard to follow, but much of that can probably be attributed to a young and immature mind. I've seen it a couple times since its original release and have come to appreciate the movie its cool cyberpunk setting. Also, of note, James Cameron wrote this movie, which was released between True Lies and Titanic.

Written and directed by Alex Proyas

This thought-provoking noir cyberpunk is fascinating and deserves far more credit that it receives. It's got a great cast and the direction by a post-The Crow Proyas is excellent as well.

Directed by Hajime Yatate

More than any other entry on this list, Cowboy Bebop has got to be the most fun. Although, admittedly, I haven't delved too deeply into the world of anime, Cowboy Bebop is also, hands down, the best I've seen. The world building is great and the voice acting is superb, but it's the cast of characters that make this series so memorable. Also, I realize this isn't a movie, but I'm keeping it on my list since the series did have a followup movie in 2001.

Written and Directed by Lena & Lilly Wachowski

I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing The Matrix, because pretty much everyone and their grandmother has seen it, but when it comes to cyberpunk, The first Matrix is the movie that really pulled it all together. Brilliant movie and easily one of my favorite movies of all time. Although I included all three movies on this list, although Reloaded and Revolutions have some cool stuff in them, neither holds a candle to the original.

Written and directed by David Cronenberg

Existenz is another underrated cyberpunk flick. Yes, it's confusing at times, but it's supposed to be and that element of, what the hell is happening, is part of what makes this such a cool movie. It draws in the viewer, making it feel like we're a part of the movie. Plus, it's got a phenomenal cast featuring Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Holm, and Willem Dafoe.

Directed by Josef Rusnak

This is another movie that doesn't get a lot of attention because it came out the same year as The Matrix and tackles some of the same themes, but without all the action. It's a cool movie and one I've come to appreciate more and more over time. It's actually based upon the book, Simulacron 3, by Daniel F. Galouye, which was converted into a German TV miniseries in 1973 under the name, World on a Wire. I have yet to watch the TV series, or read the book but they are both on my to-read and to-watch lists.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on a story by Brian Aldiss

This is Spielberg's take on the story, Supertoys Last All Summer Long, by Brian Aldiss. It's one of Spielberg's darker films and a movie that's stuck with me over time.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on a story by Philip K. Dick

Another brilliant movie spawned from the mind of Philip K. Dick, but this way by means of Spielberg. Just like the movie poster says, this movie is a masterpiece in cinema. That's pretty much all I'm going to say on this movie because, Tom Cruise haters aside, it's fairly well established already.

Directed by Richard Linklater

Based on a story by Philip K. Dick

A scanner darkly is based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name and filmed using rotoscoping animation. Linklater's decision to film using the rotoscoping technique was a good one; it perfectly captures the feel of the story, which is about a dangerous new psychotropic drug. The story is supported by a great cast and its definitely a movie to be experienced.

Directed by Pete Travis

This is a much better and far more faithful take on Judge Dredd than my earlier entry and a thoroughly entertaining and ultra-violent cyberpunk flick. In my opinion, it's also incredibly underrated and well worth a viewing.

Directed by Len Wiseman

While not as good, nor as impactful to the cyberpunk genre, as the original Arnie adaptation, this one has some really cool tech and some unique set designs. I wasn't a big fan after seeing it in theaters upon original release, but I rented and re-watched it recently and enjoyed it much more on second viewing.

Rian Johnson

We only catch glimpses of cyberpunk in this time traveler, but the little bit it shows made me want more.

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Although this movie would have benefited from a little more subtlety, it's got some really cool stuff in it and a serious cyberpunk vibe. The exoskeleton concept alone makes it worth a viewing.

Directed by Gabe Ibáñez

Automata feels like a mashup of Blade Runner with I, Robot. It's not the most original movie on this list, but it's a fun flick with some cool tech and a cool dystopian environment.

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Much like Elysium, the obvious bad guys in this don't have to be portrayed so villainously to get the point across. Also, the casting of Die Antwoord rappers Ninja and Yolandi-Visser is somewhat distracting to the story. All that being said, the robot design and urban wasteland displayed here are pure cyberpunk and deserving of a viewing.

Directed by Carleton Ranney

This slow paced indie film isn't your typical cyberpunk movie filled with neon cities and urban decay, but it's mixture of low tech with high tech give it its own unique vibe. It's also got some solid acting on display.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

This sequel, 35-years in the making, is one of the few movies to outdo the sequel. It is a true masterpiece that manages to pay tribute to the original while adding layers to the story. It is a perfect movie from beginning to end.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Ernest Cline

Of all the movies on this list, this is likely the one to draw the most ire. And, no, the movie is not nearly as good as the book and took some serious liberties with the source material, but that is to be expected given time constraints and licensing issues. However, on its own, it's a fun movie. This is probably the most light-hearted movie on this list, and most toned down in regards to cyberpunk themes, but I'd remiss if I failed to mention it.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell

Frantic pacing combined with plenty of cool action sequences, Upgrade has plenty to offer to the cyberpunk genre. Like Ex Machina and Looper, the low-life cyberpunk elements are in the background, focusing on the more on the high-tech premise, but they are definitely there. I'd like to see another story told in this universe.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Written by James Cameron

This movie, based on the comic book series, Battle Angel Alita, is a spectacular to behold. It practically nonstop action from start to finish and filled with enough violence to satisfy a Tarantino fan, which is impressive given its PG-13 rating. Although it would have been nice to get a little more character development, the world-building is excellent and made me want more.

So, there you have it. Thirty-three cyberpunk films for your viewing pleasure.

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