War Games (1983)

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War Games (1983)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:59 pm


Directed by John Badham
There were a few films around this time - 1983 seems a pivotal year - which made nuclear war the central premise; the obvious ones were The Day After on TV and Testament, which depicted the actual war. Then there's stuff like War Games, which mixed youthful Spielbergian shennanigans in suburbia with the nuclear threat. The other two films tried to instill fear through the presentation of actual devastation; this one presented the mere possibility - that maybe it was enuff to just show us on the brink, not all the way over the edge.
The key scene, however, has nothing to do with Matthew Broderick's computer whiz character; it's the first scene, taking place in one of those underground control rooms in which two military personnel sit & wait for the moment that they may have to turn a couple of keys and launch some  missiles. I remember this scene the best; after I first saw it back in '83, I actually forgot from what film it was after a few years; but that scene stood out - it was very intense and probably hit home the point more than any subsequent scenes.
Overall, the film is pretty entertaining. Broderick is the early eighties version of a computer hacker; he's good enuff to secretely change the grades in the school computer. Ally Sheedy shines as his new girlfriend. He likes to play computer games and ends up accessing a military supercomputer to play global thermonuclear war. That's the scenario: some kid in a Seattle suburb causes DefCon 4 & 3, making the President himself  scurry to safety. Our military commanders are not amused; the audience is, though.  Smile
The rest of the cast is also good; Dabney Coleman is the civilian in charge, championing machine over man; Barry Corbin is the fat general; Maury Chaykin is great (and young in an early role) in his one scene as another computer whiz; and John Wood is the mysterious creator of Joshua, this film's version of a.i. which would be shown in an ever-more-darker light in films like The Terminator. This ends up as the light side of machine intelligence and nuclear war, where everything ends up nice and OK, with a rather transparent lecture on how to avoid the worst case scenario. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10


War Trivia: there was a very early role here for Michael Madsen, in the first scene with the two military men.
The jeep crash in the final act was real and changed the way the planned sequence proceeded.
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