Movie Review: War Games (1983)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1983 thriller starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy.

Synopsis: A brilliant but underachieving teenager attempts to use his home computer to hack a software company and steal their new games. Instead, he accidentally hacks a defense computer that is in charge of all the United States’ nuclear weapons and triggers a simulation that has the potential to cause World War III and the end of the world.


I felt myself coming down sick with the cold my wife and daughters had fought earlier this month and, mostly because I didn’t want to miss work (or, actually, go to work really sick), I decided to take it somewhat easy yesterday afternoon. And, as part of this, I ended up watching some movies while sitting on the couch.

I’ve seen the movie “War Games” on several occasions. In fact, when I watched it yesterday, it was the second time I’ve watched it in the past week. Despite seeing it so many times, I still manage to be entertained.

The thing I really like about this movie is it is really two stories. The first, and obvious, one is about the dangers of computers in the wrong hands, something that is even a bit more prevalent today with the large increase of hackers. And, in this particular case, it was taken to a pretty decent extreme with a kid, not knowing any better, accidentally stumbling across a line that should have been disconnected and causing chaos as a result.

The other story, however, is the one I always find somewhat intriguing, in addition to the dangers of computers, this movie also does a decent job of addressing the dangers of human nature too. When I first saw this film, I figured the various authority figures chose not to believe the teenager, David (Broderick) because of his age. But, now, I realize their reluctance to believe him actually had more to do with avoiding embarrassment and jeopardizing their careers.

 I, personally, found this interesting because, while the Cold War-era film makes it perfectly clear we shouldn’t trust a machine with our nuclear arsenal; it also strongly suggests humans aren’t really a good choice for that burden either, at least in certain situations. And, with the world still technically a simple misunderstanding away from the brink of destruction, that’s a pretty good lesson to remember. 

Final Opinion

The movie, obviously, is a bit dated. However, it still manages to be a very entertaining film and I would recommend watching it if you haven’t seen it before.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 09/28/2015, StevenHelmer
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