Nostalgia’d Review: WarGames (1983)

This Week, Let’s See What Matthew Broderick And World War III Have In Common With John Badham’s WarGames!


Jennifer: He wasn’t very old.
David: No, he was pretty old. He was 41.
Jennifer: Oh yeah? … Oh, that’s old.

WarGames was released in the summer of 1983 and was the fifth highest grossing film domestically of that year, behind:

  1. Return Of The Jedi;
  2. Terms Of Endearment;
  3. Flashdance;
  4. Trading Places.

It stars a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick, pre-Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy and an incredibly young Coach Whitey Durham of One Tree Hill fame, Barry Corbin.

great question

Broderick’s David Lightman And Sheedy’s Jennifer No-Last-Name Made For An Enjoyable Duo

The film follows Broderick’s David Lightman, a technological wiz latchkey kid who pulls off the obnoxious wealthy teenager rather well… Albeit there were moments that made me want to wipe the stupid look off his face. The film follows him as he hacks his way into a military supercomputer and shit goes down from there. David’s character consists of technological jargon that was intriguing to listen to, however the delivery of his whiny-pitched voice was off-putting at times. The kid lives in a dual-income household in the ’80s. His parents aren’t terrible and his mom loves raw corn, his teenage angst should frankly be non-existent.

“did I do that?” Yes. You did.

Ally Sheedy’s character Jennifer serves as a typical ’80s female used to further the development of our teenage male protagonist, however I appreciated immensely the attempt to not make her so much of a damsel in distress. Instead, Jennifer actually took an interest in the shit David was spewing and their relationship was nice to watch. She really seemed to like him more and more as the threats increased which makes me think she is into that kind of thing. Driving a dirt bike with no helmet is that bad ass/dangerous ’80s life kids were living at the time!

I also truly appreciate that they didn’t make David a squirrelly, socially-awkward nerd that ridicules Jennifer at every turn for not knowing what trajectory headings are. There are two glaring examples of the (WARNING: TV TROPES LINKGeekPhysique at play during one scene but besides that, the secondary characters all have distinct personality traits without being labeled as “Mustache-Twirling-Villain #1” or “White Knight #2.”

The Essentially Flawless Pacing

WarGames is 114 minutes which runs about two and a half hours if you watch it off a TV station. When I initially realized this, I wondered if I would feel fatigued at all seeing governing bodies discuss nuclear launch codes…

Scout’s Honour: The first time I checked to see how much of the film was left, two hours already elapsed.

The pacing in this film is essentially flawless. Each and every single sequence of events is progressed spectacularly. I did not feel bored once which is a testament to John Bedham’s directing and the fantastic writing. There were maybe one or two moments that lingered a bit longer than I would have liked, but even then I found myself enveloped in this world.

The final sequence is wonderfully done because of how well the tension building was executed throughout it. Had the scenes prior to it been lazily done, the viewer would be itching to turn the film off rather than want to see more. The techno-babble was relatively straight-forward to comprehend and as someone whose favourite trilogy consists of two people walking around a city discussing life (see: Richard Linklater‘s Before trilogy), any type of complexity to the film is accessible to any audience members interested in the issue of global thermonuclear war!

Favourite Scene (SPOILERS)

I’ll link to my favourite scene here just in case there are those individuals that are spoiled by thumbnails and the such. If you want to enter this film with as little knowledge as possible, I’d suggest watching it first or just scrolling to see my score, if interested.
I will post spoilers in the following bullet points…

  • The Meaning Behind It. Throughout the film we are warned about what will happen when we reach DEFCON 1. We ache at the thought of it! When the words are finally said, a knot did form in my stomach.
  • The Tension Is Real. They’re closing up the mountain?! Will they make it up the hill?!! For God’s sake why did you go on the computer, David???

If you’re looking for an awesome 1980s film with that ’80s technology flying high in the sky, check out WarGames.

See Also:

WarGames receives a Matt Damon pulling his best Fonzie impression…


featured image source: James White


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