Movies to Shadowrun to

September 3, 2011 - General

At Dumpshock there is often a thread asking or compiling quintessential Shadowrun movies. The first post is always innocent enough, asking for ideas or to continue the list that first poster has just start. It’s then followed by several posts that amount to “see here” with a link to a previous thread. In the interests of staying away from that I’ll post my list here.

I don’t believe that there will ever be a movie that encompasses most or all of the elements  that make up Shadowrun. However, there are a lot of movies I draw upon to provide inspiration and imagery for my games. So without further ado here are the movies that make me think of Shadowrun.

  1. Akira – Japanacorps, go-gangs, and supernatural powers. This was probably one of the influences during the early development of Shadowrun. Also, Go-Gangs were a real thing in Japan.
  2. Heat – The best of the best and how they destroy themselves when they deviate from their beliefs. Expect Prime runners to act the way De Niro’s crew did.
  3. Leon – The fixer/shooter relationship and good gun fights. There is a case to be made that Leon would also equate to a Physical Adept in Shadowrun. I like the part corruption plays in this movie and most of my Lone star detectives follow Gary Oldman’s  shadow.
  4. Ronin – A movie about a group of prime runners planning for their next job. Heat shows you how prime runners act, Ronin shows you how  they plan. Unfortunately, from my experience Way of the Gun has a more appropriate quote describing my player’s planning efforts; “a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen”.
  5. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – In my mind an accurate depiction of a street samurai and  the code he holds himself to. If you’re going to walk around in my Shadowrun game calling yourself a sammy then you better act like Forest Whitaker’s character. Otherwise your just another shooter.
  6. District 9 – Watching this movie I immediately thought District 9 was fine example of the Redmond Barrens. The gang control, the ramshackle houses  and the military force required to deliver relocation notices are all features of canon Shadowrun. I draw heavily from this movie when my players enter the barrens.
  7. Way of the Gun – My games are more Way of the Gun than Ronin or Heat. Your characters, like Mr Parker and Mr Longbaugh will walk outside society and must find a way to survive. Great, highly quotable movie. Most of my games are influenced by this one.
  8. Minority Report – Released before SR4 but a great example of AR technology and tailored advertising. Bonus points for the drones and street doc.
  9. Night Watch – I imagine in a world that has magic and metahumans, shadowrunners would act like the night watch. It wouldn’t be strange to talk to your vampire butcher to get information and have witches come to your house to cast spells. Creepy, understated magic is how I like magic to be portrayed in the RPGs I play.

Looking over the list it’s interesting to note that a lot of them feature a protagonist who ends up paying a terrible price (Heat, Leon, Ghost Dog, District 9, Way of the Gun). It’s a post for another time but my Shadowrun isn’t about destiny or heroics. It’s about surviving to see daybreak.

4 thoughts on “Movies to Shadowrun to


If you haven’t seen it, I recommend the movie Renaissance:

It is set in 2054 Paris, and it is very much how I would imagine a metropolitan center to look like at that time. The movie deals with dark secrets and experiments that a large corporation would rather keep in their closet, and it has a lot of examples of AR advertising, population control, and smartlink contact lenses. Also, like a lot of the others on your list, the protagonist is not a hero, but just a guy trying to survive and find some truth in this bleak, corporate facade of a world.

    The Dood

    Trailer looks good. I’ll have to check it out.

Hobbit Heller

I’m surprised no one put ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ ( ) as the director all but stated it was Shadowrun without the license. It had Couriers, Deckers, Street Sams, corporate espionage, AND monofilament.


You’ve got it backwards, Johnny Mnemonic the movie was based on a short story by william gibson, Shadowrun itself was inspired by gibson’s work and borrows heavily on the world he created in homage. New rose hotel is annother movie based on his works and god help us if they ever make Neuromancer into a movie….

That said, there are several movies that pick up some of the shadowrun spirit but are hard to track down because they lack public appeal.

Look into a film called Cyberjack for an interesting cyberpunk/heist film that kindof captures the feel of a run, esspecially if you root for the villians.

Strange Days is by far my favorite shadowrun-like movie, the plot revolves around BTLs and how they only seem to (re)create more human misery, best of all it is set in a bizarro past-future, being filmed in the mid 90s at the height of y2k panic and revolves around new years eve 1999. Futuretech, an out of date timeline, anarchic societal woes, lust, betrayal, odd filming angles, the movie has everything but trolls and magic.


Leave a Reply