WarGames (1983)


A fun 80s cyber-thriller (the first of it’s kind?) that may have lost some of it’s modernity when watching in hindsight. I bet audiences were overwhelmed with all this tech on screen in 1983 and it felt like it was a rare peek into circuit-board culture. Now the bulky desktop computers and green-text on black screens just look pleasingly old-school and retro. The techno-babble is cool as well even if it never reaches Primer-levels of authenticity.

Broderick is perfectly cast. He looks like the kind of kid who would stay inside with computers but still be charming and dorky. This is pre-Ferris Bueller too, so the confidence of that role wasn’t hardwired into his performance (I kinda feel like everything Broderick did after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was tainted by that character, but not in a wholly bad way). This is the first movie I’ve seen Ally Sheedy in outside of The Breakfast Club too. She’s almost unrecognizable here if you only picture her as Allison Reynolds. The chemistry between the two works. What a way to fall in love! Racing across the country trying to prevent computers initiating nuclear Armageddon. It’s also directed by John Saturday Night Fever Badham but lacks a lot of that films street-level swagger. Maybe the Bee Gees were unavailable this time.

Overall, WarGames stays afloat because of it’s a funky high-concept. The kid just wanted to play goddamn video games, he didn’t mean to start WWIII. 2001 did this much better fifteen years earlier but as a sugary-popcorn-for-the-masses alternative, it’s fun.

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