WarGames (War Games)


WarGames (War Games)

Critics Consensus

Part delightfully tense techno-thriller, part refreshingly unpatronizing teen drama, WarGames is one of the more inventive -- and genuinely suspenseful -- Cold War movies of the 1980s.



Total Count: 42


Audience Score

User Ratings: 52,574
User image

WarGames (War Games) Photos

Movie Info

Once more, a wise-guy teenager tries to prove he's smarter than any adult-and nearly destroys the whole world in the process-in WarGames. Computer-game aficionado Matthew Broderick inadverently taps into a hush-hush Pentagon computer, then proceeds to inaugurate his favorite game, "Global Thermonuclear War". What we know, but Broderick doesn't, is that the Pentagon, hoping to eliminate the chancy "human element" in the event of an actual war, has given its computer total, irreversable control over the launching of nuclear weaponry. Broderick and government official Dabney Coleman race against time to reverse the computer's resolve to send bombers to Russia. WarGames scored a hit, especially with teenage filmgoers.

Watch it now


Dabney Coleman
as McKittrick
Ally Sheedy
as Jennifer
John Wood
as Falken
Barry Corbin
as Gen. Beringer
Juanin Clay
as Pat Healy
Joe Dorsey
as Conley
Michael Ensign
as Beringer's Aide
William Bogert
as Mr. Lightman
Susan Davis
as Mrs. Lightman
David Clover
as Stockman
Ray Sharkey
as Radar Analyst
John Garber
as Corporal in Infirmary
Billy Ray Sharkey
as Radar Analyst
Erik Stern
as Commander
Gary Bisig
as Deputy
Gary Sexton
as Technician
Jason Bernard
as Capt. Knewt
Frankie Hill
as Airman Fields
Alan Blumenfeld
as Mr. Liggett
Len Lawson
as Boy's Vice Principal
Maury Chaykin
as Jim Sting
Stephen Lee
as Sgt. Schneider
Lucinda Crosby
as Nurse in Infirmary
Brad David Berwick
as Flight Pilot Leader
Martha Shaw
as Vice Principal Secretary
Howard Allen
as Boy in Arcade
Jim Harriott
as Newscaster
Tom Lawrence
as Sgt. Sims
Charles Akins
as Major Ford
Glenn Standifer
as Maj. Wenstin
Edward Jahnke
as Norad Officer
View All

News & Interviews for WarGames (War Games)

Critic Reviews for WarGames (War Games)

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (3)

  • Classic humanist-didactic filmmaking, effectively presented as a thriller.

    Jul 30, 2013 | Full Review…
  • To me, the most enjoyable aspect of WarGames is when David is at work on his computer system. There's something wonderfully nostalgic about watching a guy play with such antiquated machinery and recognize that it was [once] considered state-of-the-art.

    Apr 30, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • John Badham solders the pieces into a terrifically exciting story charged by an irresistible idea: an extra-smart kid can get the world into a whole lot of trouble that it also takes the same extra-smart kid to rescue it from.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • As tense and effective now as it was 25 years ago. The worry back then was more about Soviet missiles than about credit card identity theft, but good filmmaking techniques haven't changed.

    Mar 14, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The first half has a sardonic edge to it, but the more seriously the movie takes itself the sillier it gets.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Tom Charity

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • As a premise for a thriller, this is a masterstroke.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for WarGames (War Games)

  • Jan 23, 2019
    WarGames is just a fun, tense, well-paced thriller and slice of early 1980's cold war Americana. Really well cast, with super likeable young stars Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, matched up against always perfectly smarmy Dabney Coleman with a dash of Barry Corbin's military moxie. This movie belongs in a time capsule of 1980's classics. The music is well done, the supporting cast is terrific. It even feels somewhat plausible that a young, gifted underachiever could accidentally hack into the U.S. military computer to play a fantasy wargame, and instead almost start world war III. Nothing was more terrifying at that time than the prospect of WW3. This is simply an underrated, enjoyable thriller that helped launch both Broderick and Sheedy, and is better than several other cold war thrillers of that era. I never get tired of watching Broderick outsmart federal officials with his ingenuity.
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2015
    This is such a great film. It's pretty cheesy at times (it was made in the 80s after all lol). But WarGames is still a great film...great premise, story, and pacing. The cast is pretty good, as are the special effects for their time. This is also kind of random, but I like this film for its significance to the modern classic book Ready Player One. Unrelated really, I know, but I still appreciate the tie-in. Anyway, check this out.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 17, 2014
    Even though outdated and preposterous by today's standard, Wargames featured a solid cast, well written story. sensible direction and brilliant acting from 80s movie stars like Broderick and Sheedy.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 12, 2013
    A teenage computer hacker accidentally starts a World War III simulation with a military supercomputer. In the oeuvre of "the machines are winning" films, like Dr. Srangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb or The Terminator, Wargames ranks among the best of in this genre. If that's not enough, in the oeuvre of Cold War era peace films, like Fail Safe and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Wargames's message fits witth the best of these as well. Without being terribly preachy, the film deftly expresses these two sentiments -- the over-determination of technology on our lives and the stupidity of Cold War era foreign policy. Particularly, "I was going to learn to swim" was a very nice touch. Matthew Broderick was such a great actor in his younger days. He was so understated. His work was similar to a young Dustin Hoffman, and while his recent work has fallen off slightly, it's always great to revisit Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Biloxi Blues, and this film, Wargames to see how great he was. I found the plot predictable, and the bit with Falken and the helicopter was too deus ex machina for my tastes. Overall, this is a very good film about concepts that remain relevant today.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

WarGames (War Games) Quotes

News & Features