It’s no secret that movies often embellish the mundane to make it more interesting for the audience. But when you stop and think about it, I bet you’ve noticed some the blunders that Hollywood has decided to ignore for the sake of movie magic.
Take computers, for example. It might have been more understandable to see glaring errors in older movies when not many people had personal computers, but there’s really no excuse now. This might have to end up being a bigger series, because there are so many things wrong with the way computers have been represented in movies. But for starters, I’m going to share my list of the top three ways movies get data centers wrong.
Data Centers Have a Lot of Data
In Ocean’s Eleven, the team’s hacker simply clips a device to a cable in the casino’s data center, and the entire security camera system becomes available via remote laptop.
Livingston Dell, the techie character from Ocean’s Eleven played by Eddie Jemison, may be a whiz with computers and surveillance, but he’s an anxious guy who’s not so great at finding his way around. In fact, he needs to write the directions to the server room on his hand just to get there. But to find the “right” cable, he easily navigates through server cabinets that are virtually identical and finds exactly what he needs.
Forget that sensitive data like video feeds would be encrypted and that it would take more to hack it than clipping something to the outside of a single cable. An unauthorized person could still manage to do some damage, but unless they were intimately familiar with the data center, that damage would be imprecise.
Data Centers Are Loud
Often in movies, the hero must deftly sneak into a silent data center that is more akin to a library or a museum than the real thing. Servers, storage, and switches have fans that spin up when needed to cool hardware, and they can get noisy. A quick jaunt into the server room at my work shows about 75 decibels, and we’re only testing this equipment, so we’re not even running full throttle at any given time.
When James Bond manages to get captured in Skyfall, he finds himself handcuffed to a chair in a haphazard data center. Silva, Bond’s soft spoken adversary, makes a dramatic entrance at the other side of the large room and begins delivering his villainous soliloquy.
Whenever we’re working together in the data center, my coworkers and I have to shout at each other. In reality, the antagonist would’ve had to shout or 007 wouldn’t have heard a word he said until he was two feet away. C’mon, you know Javier Bardem has the acting chops to pull that off and still be menacing.
Data Centers Are Boring
The technology in use in the data center can be fascinating. However, when it comes to aesthetics, things tend to be really bland. The function comes before the form; companies worry a lot more about having access to their data than about having an interesting design in their server room.
Most data centers have hot and cold aisles which help regulate temperature and keep things from overheating. In Tron: Legacy, protagonist Sam Flynn breaks in to the ENCOM data center so that he can upload a program to their servers. The room has a visually impressive style, with each cabinet standing on its own and all of the cabinets facing the same direction. While it’s certainly interesting to look at, a set up like that would really mess with airflow and temperature.
Before you bring it up, I know, I know…I left out any mention of the movie Hackers. But let’s be honest. What did that movie get right about data centers?
What other computer indiscretions have you spotted on the silver screen? Share your discoveries with us in the comments!