CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Drama, Thriller
  • 1983
  • 114 mins

War Games

War Games

Synopsis

The young Matthew Broderick stars in a computer-related nuclear thriller that's as effective as it is appallingly dated..

About

WarGames harks back not only to a different decade but to a different age: one in which "modem" was among the most modern of terms and any computer with serious brain power was the size of the average family car.

John Badham's taut thriller is a reminder that the 80s was a technological stone age as well as the time of big hair. But while it might leave you feeling smug about how far we've come, WarGames is sufficiently engaging and tense to seem frightening rather than funny. That it is such a good film is made more amazing still by the fact it stars almost nobody famous and original director Martin Brest (the man responsible for Gigli) was fired midway through shooting.

Looking pretty much the way he looks today, Matthew Broderick was just 21 and a veteran of only one feature film when he was cast as 16-year-old computer nerd David Lightman. When David accidentally hacks into a government super-computer, he nearly sparks off a nuclear war. Naturally, the American military are pretty concerned about this. But they're even more concerned when said system, codename WOPR, finds itself unable to distinguish between the war-game David wanted to play and the real thing.

Sharply scripted by Walter F Parkes and Lawrence Lasker (who also penned hacker fest Sneakers), WarGames might be aimed primarily at young boys but it never for a moment excludes either girls or adults - it's as if Badham realised that the machines at the heart of his story could benefit all mankind, and not just the members who were shy around the opposite sex. The unstarry cast also helps keep attention focused on the frankly terrifying story. Both Broderick and love interest Ally Sheedy are very natural while, among the adults, Dabney Coleman, Barry Corbin and John Wood excel as military top brass, bonkers General and enigmatic scientist respectively. And be sure to keep an eye out for a young Michael Madsen as one of the guys in the silo in the opening scene.

Admittedly, there's none of the bleakness and little of the black comedy of, say, Dr Strangelove. But compare WarGames with much of what passes for teen entertainment today and you wish that more filmmakers would download its winning formula.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Barry Corbin, Dennis Lipscomb, John Wood, Maury Chaykin, Dabney Coleman, Juanin Clay, Matthew Broderick, Joe Dorsey, Ally Sheedy, Eddie Deezen, Kent Williams
  • Director: John Badham
  • Screen Writer: Lawrence Lasker, Walter F Parkes
  • Producer: Harold Schneider
  • Photographer: William A Fraker
  • Composer: Arthur B Rubinstein

In a nutshell

Time might not have been kind to the look of WarGames, but with nuclear war still a very real threat, the picture's ability to manufacture suspense remains undimmed.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness

    Director Mami Sunada spends a year behind-the-scenes at Studio Ghibli as the animation powerhouse finishes two prestige productions

  • Film4

    Hahaha

    Comedy-drama from South Korean director Hong Sang-soo. Two friends, one a film director and the other a critic, discover their lives overlap more than they thought

    On Film4: 7 Nov 1:00AM

  • Film4

    Hong Sang-Soo Season

    A series of films unreleased in the UK from acclaimed and prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo

  • Film4

    Tower Heist on Film4

    Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy & Casey Affleck lead an all-star cast in Brett Ratner's heist comedy

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share