WarGames (1983)

wargames poster 1983 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Pretty smart and rounded

Dated but in a way that is logical

Movie Info

Movie Name:  WarGames

Studio: United Artists/Sherwood Productions

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

Release Date(s):  May 7, 1983 (Cannes)/June 3, 1983 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

wargames matthew broderick ally sheedy

Hacking is fun and deadly

David (Matthew Broderick) is an underachiever, but an overachiever in regards to his ability with computers.  Befriending a fellow classmate named Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) after hacking the school computers, David uncovers a backdoor to a government computer loaded with games.  David starts a game of “Global Thermonuclear War” without realizing that the computer Joshua doesn’t realize that the David is playing a game.  Joshua is intent on winning global thermonuclear war, and David and Jennifer are running out of time to stop it.

Directed by John Badham, WarGames is an action-adventure thriller.  The movie was released to positive reviews and received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound.

wargames matthew broderick

That computer set me up!

WarGames helped usher in the idea of hackers while preying on the fear of nuclear war.  Growing up, I thought that nuclear war was always imminent.  It was in the back of your mind as a kid, but it was there.  WarGames was both a sign of the potential of computers and the fear.

Even decades later, WarGames is a smart film.  The movie had the challenge of explaining hacking (from things like a “backdoor” to the basic ideas of hacking).  It wasn’t something that was ingrained in people yet.  The film does it easily and cleverly…it keeps up the tension, and it is terrifying.  As technology has increased, a sentient technology accidentally trigger a war seems even more possible…and WarGames was a start.

The movie was an introduction to Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy who got big in the 1980s.  They both feel like real teens, and they aren’t necessarily “supermodel” type teens.  They are backed with good character actors including Dabney Coleman and Barry Corbin.  Though he is a computer the “Joshua” (housed in WOPR computer) is almost a character itself.  It is simple and childlike and just as memorable as any of the actors.

wargames joshua computer tic tac toe

Would you like to play a game?

The movie is dated, but it at this point is a period piece.  The tech was the tech of the time, and it was high tech (things were made for the movie).  Even the idea of computers using phone lines was top-tier technology.  WarGames now feels quaint, but it also is easy to see how tech evolved to today.

WarGames is an important movie though it is easily forgotten in the bigger picture.  It is a thriller with larger implications and the positive message that war has no winners.  As the world seems to tick closer and closer to a world war again in many ways, WarGames is a reminder how close we sometimes were before.  War is just a game that adults play that actually costs lives.  Do you want to play a game?  WarGames was followed by a sequel WarGames:  Dead Code in 2008.

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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