WarGames (1983)

(Second viewing, On TV, December 2016) I haven’t seen WarGames in over twenty years, although it feels as if that scene in Ernest Cline’s geek-fest novel Ready Player One nearly counts as a re-watch. I’m mentioning the novel because, in many ways, reviewing WarGames in the far future of 2016 clearly shows it to be an epochal film in terms of technological anxiety. Nowadays, a hacker causing a military incident would be a premise for a mildly dull thriller, “ripped from the headlines”, as they say. It certainly was ahead of its time: WarGames anticipates geek-chic through its brainy but clueless hero, clearly shows a primitive form of Internet normalization and correctly taps into an ever-more-relevant issue of pranks having far-reaching consequences ( … and that’s how you elected your newest president, America.) Matthew Broderick makes for an unusual hero, while Ally Sheedy plays a generic role well enough. While the film isn’t always clear on the tone it wants to use (there’s a notably darker sequence near the two-third mark), it does find its way in the third act, and works rather well in the end. WarGames definitely has aged, but it has become a curiously fascinating period piece. A must see for any technology buff, it’s undeniably one of the roots of today’s Internet culture.

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