1983 WarGames movie has been defined many times as a cult film, and
in many respects it is. Starring an eternally young Matthew Broderick,
the story takes place during the peak of the Cold War: the Ronald Reagan
years. Picturing then nerd-lead computer times when the Macintosh wasn't even
introduced yet, this flick plays well at associating the public fear of nuclear
war with the advent of new technologies that the general public did not comprehended
at the time, let alone master.
David Lightman is a young computer genius who can get by at school by trafficking
his grades. While on a wardialing search for new video games he would stumble
on an intelligent NORAD computer which will let him play a simulation of World
War III. Only, his games could be more real than he might imagine.
is a cool science fiction movie to see as it offers three great thrills. The first
is to see to which extent our lives are defined by computers and how much we depend
on them. Particularly in this flick, the concept of a doomsday machine out of
control makes the viewer realize the importance of humans in any critical decision-making
The second thrill of watching WarGames is that it offers a picture
of basic hacking techniques and easy phone phreaking, things common in the 'Seventies
and 'Eighties but more dangerous nowadays. While not much shown of that field
in this film can still be applied today, WarGames stays in movie history
as one of the few which tackled the idea and showed to many computer illiterates
the power and usefulness of PCs in modern society.
final thrill is the era in which the movie is taking place. WarGames
has somewhat aged badly as its then cutting-edge (8" diskettes, 300 bps modems...)
consumer technology is now ripe to trade at good prices as museum relics. But
what could be seen as a fault is more like a look at the past, complete with early
80's classic haircuts. Of course, now that the Cold War is officially over, nuclear
fear of the USA vs. USSR kind is greatly diminished, and so might the movie climax
If you like looking back at the 80's and picturing yourself typing on an Apple
II, a TRS-80 or an IBM XT, WarGames is most definitely for you. A
brilliant mix between 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), this 1980's
Hackers (1995) will let you travel back in Cold War times. You will just wish
you had kept that ColecoVision gaming console for a quick Global Thermonuclear
War, like in the good old days...
Review by René-Marc Simard.