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WARGAMES (1983) ****

In 1983 the idea of a teenager using a computer to tap into the United States’ defense system and start World War III was something bordering on science fiction.  In today’s world with all the rampant computer hacking, it’s all too possible.  Luckily for us, most hackers are more interested in stealing pin numbers, bank accounts, and credit card information than plunging the world into nuclear war.


Matthew Broderick stars as a young teenager that hacks into NORAD thinking he’s playing a video game called Global Thermonuclear War.  Actually, he’s starting up a long dormant war program that is bent on turning the Soviet Union into rubble.  Along with his cute gal pal (Ally Sheedy), they have to race against the clock to stop the computer from turning the Commies into Crispy Critters.


Wargames is one of those 80’s movies I saw a jillion times on HBO back in the day that I always got sucked into.  I’d be sitting there trying to do homework and this damn movie would be on and I’d just drop my Trapper Keeper and start watching.  Even after all those years, it still holds up pretty well.


What makes the movie work is the excellent performance by Matthew Broderick.  He resists the temptation to make his character into a full-on nerd and instead, creates a three-dimensional character you care about and root for.  The flick was directed by John Badham, a man who knows how to make a truly thrilling thriller.  It’s not the best movie he made in 1983 (that would be Blue Thunder), but it’s certainly a lot of fun.



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