Matthew Broderick stars as boy hacker David, who finds a computer-game on his computer, but doesn’t realize that hes actually tapped into a live war-game. Part satire, part commentary on the problems of technology, and always an entertaining breeze. It took the hacker generation under its wing, becoming a cult favorite in the 80s and 90s. Where the film lacks in strong storytelling it makes up in charming characterization.
Hacker David can change his school-grades from his computer. He knows exactly where the school stashes the passwords. He is a sly, wisecracking kid who loves more than anything to be at the arcade. He starts teenage flirts with a girl Jennifer, played by Ally Sheedy, and poses the first morality responsibility of the movie: She doesn’t want him to change her grades. She eventually bends, but he changed it anyway; summer school is for losers. The War room is a sort of modern, toned down version of the antics in Dr. Strangelove. The general acts like a misunderstood elephant and the employees speak in squeaky tones.
The parents are notoriously cardboard, as the father wields historical oval shaped glasses and a warmhearted Atticus Finch like posture. The most effective aspect about Wargames, though, is the ending. When the nuclear war that David accidentally incited is about to unravel, and we nor the members of the war-room know whether or not it’s going to actually happen.
I think that War Games has the potential of a solid re-make, unlike most that come up in Hollywood, with a more serious and provocative-centered tone. In the field of philosophy, it asks two major questions. Is what feels wrong to a human, worse than what feels wrong to a computer? And if so, should technology reign? Their are many reasons we as humans are afraid of technology’s submersion into the culture, but in reality, it has quietly slid itself in already, permanently. A majority of our confidential files, passwords, and security numbers are stored online, digitally, and through other non-material means. WarGames, like so many similarly themed movies, is an outlook into the future of our information driven world.
The acting in WarGames, by the charming young actors and the goofball adults, is enough alone to make it entertaining. It inspired a generation of computer-savvy, hacker children, and still reigns today as a classic cult film. If you think it’s outdated, think again, then see it and think some more.