WarGames (War Games) (1983)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic 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.

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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.
Rating:
PG
Genre:
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM

Cast

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
Irving Metzman
as Richter
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
Drew Snyder
as Ayers
John Garber
as Corporal in Infirmary
Duncan Wilmore
as Maj. Lem
Billy Ray Sharkey
as Radar Analyst
Erik Stern
as Commander
Gary Bisig
as Deputy
Gary Sexton
as Technician
Paul V. Picerni Jr.
as Technician
Jason Bernard
as Capt. Knewt
Frankie Hill
as Airman Fields
Alan Blumenfeld
as Mr. Liggett
Len Lawson
as Boy's Vice Principal
Jesse D. Goins
as Sergeant
Maury Chaykin
as Jim Sting
Eddie Deezen
as Malvin
Stephen Lee
as Sgt. Schneider
Lucinda Crosby
as Nurse in Infirmary
Stack Pierce
as Airman
Art LaFleur
as Guard
Brad David Berwick
as Flight Pilot Leader
Martha Shaw
as Vice Principal Secretary
Howard Allen
as Boy in Arcade
Michael Adams
as Travis
Jim Harriott
as Newscaster
Tom Lawrence
as Sgt. Sims
Charles Akins
as Major Ford
Glenn Standifer
as Maj. Wenstin
Edward Jahnke
as Norad Officer
Mike Adams
as Travis
William Bogart
as Mr. Lightman
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for WarGames (War Games)

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (7)

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

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
ReelViews
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 23, 2008
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
AV Club
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.

Full Review… | March 14, 2008
Denver Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for WarGames (War Games)

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 Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

Stephen Falken: What you see on these screens up here is a fantasy; a computer enhanced hallucination!  "Is it a game, or is it real?" Wargames is a classic thriller that stars a young Matthew Broderick. It's a quick paced film that uses the cold war to good effect. It isn't a perfect movie, nor is it an amazing movie, in my opinion. What it is though is a fun film. It's entertaining, it's occasionally funny, occasionally thrilling, and it does have a brain. It's involving, but not quite as involving as I initially thought it would be. In the end, I rather enjoyed it though. David is an intelligent high schooler, but also an under achiever. He spends most of his time on the computer and has gotten pretty good at hacking into systems. When he tries to hack into a gaming computer to steal some of its games, he accidentally gets into a military one. When he sees a list of games he decides to play Global Thermonuclear War. What he thinks is just a game turns into a real life situation when NATO thinks the Soviets are attacking. Is it a game, or is it all too real? The movie definitely suffers a bit with its age. It's dated for sure, and some of the acting isn't the best. Had I watched this in 1983, I probably would have appreciated it a whole lot more. Watching it for the first time in 2013, it all seems extremely silly, but still fun. There's nothing here that makes me want to say anything too harsh about the film, but there's also nothing that makes me want to declare it as one of the best movies of the 80's as many like to claim.  This is worth a look if you're one of the few people who haven't seen it. It's worth it for a young Matthew Broderick and its involving story about cold war hysteria and computers vs. human beings. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

½

A really exciting and funny movie. Was it trying to be to be funny, who knows, but it was. The pure stupidity of these characters was funny to me. The plot was actually good, and really interesting. I think a lot of people check it out.

Jim Careter
Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

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