Summer of ‘83: WARGAMES

Director John Badham
Year 1983
Starring Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood
Rating PG
Run Time 114min
Age Policy

18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.

More Info IMDb

Not enough kids movies ever dealt with the harsh terrors of the Cold War.

In the opening scene of this 1983 reminder about the potential (inevitable?) nuclear annihilation all mankind, two missile commanders (Michael Madsen and John Spencer!) are ordered to launch a world-ending bomb and nearly kill each other arguing what to do.

It's a classic Cold War nightmare scenario, and even if that's all WARGAMES had going for it, it would still be a potent reminder of the technology that's still out there waiting to kill us all. But this movie is also about other timeless themes such as internet privacy, the arrogance of power and the perennially potent "growing up in the 1980's".

Matthew Broderick is an old fashioned computer need who hacks into the US missile-defense system and accidentally triggers a simulation that threatens to end life on earth. Along with his girlfriend Ally Sheedy, Broderick has to go on the run from the military and track down the system's antisocial creator by using landlines, dot-matrix printers and gigantic floppy discs.

This movie still works because it plays up the contrast between teenagers - rebellious on the surface but conformist by nature - with a cynical adult world that believes nuclear annihilation might not even be so bad. What endures most is the way that Broderick keeps trying to talk sense to both the adults, who blindly follow whatever their giant computer screens tell them, and the computers themselves, who are only interesting in playing a game.

"Nature knows when to give up."

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