War Games

February 13, 2006

Year: 1983

Directed by: John Badham

Written by: Lawrence Lasker & Walter F. Parkes

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

Key Cast Members:

  • David Lightman: Matthew Broderick
  • Jennifer Katherine Mack: Ally Sheedy
  • Dr. John McKittrick: Dabney Coleman
  • Dr. Stephen Falken: John Wood
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

    DVD Cover


    Overview: War Games is a wonderful 80s film that captures both the cold war fears and the budding hacker mentality. Mathew Broderick plays a geek teenager named David, who has fun hacking into open modems to noodle around with unidentified computer systems. He finds one computer that likes to play chess. Eventually, he finds this computer also likes to play Global-thermonuclear war. Unfortunately, while playing, he unknowingly starts the Strategic Air Command computer’s countdown to thermo-nuclear war.




    This movie is lots funnier when we consider the DoD IT fuckups from the late 70s in building computer-based command and control systems such as this. Twice, in the middle of the night, President Carter got racked out of bed to be told that the Soviets had launched – only a minute later to be told, “Sorry, it was just test data” that was being run on their new $100 Million dollar computer system. After the second such instance, President Carter made it known that he no longer found this amusing. Unfortunately, the designers of this system in their infinite wisdom had the specifications written so that test simulations had to be performed on the live system. For obvious reasons, this is about as bad an idea as has been considered, let alone implemented. They ended up having to spend an additional 50 million to build a test system, that was thereafter known as “Bozo the Clone.”




    The Bottom Line: It is definitely a stretch to call War Games cyberpunk. The only thing that makes it so is the pre-Terminator plotline concerning the Military’s attempt to allow machines to manage key decisions for society and the hacker subplot. While not as dystopic as Colossus – the Forbin Project (still awaiting review), the theme is executed competently, especially when combined with what was then the advent of the hacker movement. This is well acted, and for the most part, a decent “pre-cyberpunk” style movie.


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: cyberpunk movie review Wargames

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), 7 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.

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