Cloak & Dagger (1984)

cloak and dagger poster 1984 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun movie for older kids

The Jack Flack aspect is a bit weak

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Cloak & Dagger

Studio: Universal Studios

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): July 13, 1984

MPAA Rating: PG

cloak and dagger henry thomas dabney coleman

Listen, Davey…I’m you’re best friend…seriously…trust me

Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas) loves games. His widowed father Col. Hal Osborne (Dabney Coleman) is coping with his wife’s death and is rarely home, and Davey’s only friend is his neighbor Kim (Christina Nigra) and his favorite roleplaying character Jack Flack (Dabney Coleman). When Davey witnesses a murder and is given a copy of the Cloak & Dagger video game loaded with secret government documents, no one will believe him. Now Davey’s a target, and he has to get the game to safety before the spies get it…and him!

Directed by Richard Franklin, Cloak & Dagger is an action-adventure film.  The film is an adaptation of “The Boy Who Cried Murder” by Cornell Woolrich published in Mystery Book Magazine (March 1947) and was previously made into movies The Window in 1949 and The Boy Who Cried Murder in 1966.  The movie was originally released as a double feature with The Last Starfighter on July 13, 1984 until it received its own release date on August 10, 1984. It received average to positive reviews.

cloak and dagger henry thomas gun killer

Nothing like a murderer threatening a kid with having his kneecaps shot off and being shot in the stomach to bleed out…and then having the kid blow the guy away…I love ’80s PG

Cloak & Dagger was a childhood favorite.  I rented it multiple times on VHS and loved that it wasn’t afraid to get dark.  Watching Cloak & Dagger today is the stark reminder how much “kids” movies have changed since the 1980s.

Cloak & Dagger was one of those early video game movies along with WarGames, The Last Star Fighter, and Tron and is probably the lease remembered of the four. This is combined with a Hitchcock style plot that goes as dark as murder…and the child star gunning down a killer.  What doesn’t work in the movie is the “imaginary best friend” relationship with Coleman who starts out as a supporter, but is revealed to be a bad influence on Thomas.  It feels a bit beneath the intelligence level of Davey who feels older than his age in the way he is scripted.

The cast is solid.  Henry Thomas proved in E.T. that he was a child actor who was good at crying and utilized it often (like in this film).  Dabney Coleman plays the busy father and his substitute version-imaginary friend Jack Flack.  Christina Nigra was a popular child star and this might have been her highest profile role while real life married couple Jeanette Noland and John McIntire play the spies.  The movie features a young Bill Forsythe as the doomed Morris and a small cameo by Louie Anderson in his first film.

cloak and dagger spies henry thomas jeanette noland john mcintire

This is why you don’t trust old people.

Cloak & Dagger benefits from the unusual location of San Antonio for its main city. Watching it, it becomes obvious that San Antonio should be used more for films because of its wide variety of locations. The movie just feels a bit different than the standard LA or New York set story.

Cloak & Dagger always brings back good memories and for the most part holds up decently because it is set in the time that it was made. It is funny to see them poring over the Cloak & Dagger game (which was a real game originally called Agent X), but it also brings back memories of getting excited about simple old games on the Atari.  A ******spoiler alert****** involves the ending and how it feels like it can be interpreted different as an adult.  It feels unlikely that Coleman could have escaped the burning plane and as he transforms from Jack Flack to Hal Osborne as he emerges from the flames, it leaves you wondering if he did die…and he truly did become Davey’s hero since he saved him…it is a bit dark, but honestly so is most of the movie.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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