March 18, 2007

War Games


I just watched this movie again for the first time in at least 15 years. If you don't remember, or are too young to know, War Games features Reagan era cold war attitudes, a plot packed with technical detail about the early days of personal computing, and 80's stalwarts Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. Can such a movie withstand the test of time?

Answer: Yes yes yes. The movie surives because it's well constructed with a little bit of comedy, a little romance a little action and even a little Michael Madsen threatening someone with a gun. There are some nice plot twists and turns and some solid acting.


Spoiler alert! and while I'm at it Nerd alert! for my favorite scene.

At the end of this movie, deep in the bowels of NORAD, the heroes are trying to stop a rampaging supercomputer from starting World War III by teaching it to understand the concept of futility. They start with a game of tic tac toe hoping that the computer will learn that the game is unwinable. Just as they're setting the game, some poor defense department computer jockey yells out in all seriousness and urgency, "Put X in the center square!." Pretty damn funny moment but also a great distillation of the cold war attitude. Don't question the game; Just play to win (even if it means using tactics that don't work on anyone older than 8).
Rating: $7