Although the script has more than its share of short circuits, director 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.
Matthew Broderick is on the mark as the bright teenager, bored by traditional high school subjects like biology, but brilliant with computers. Unfortunately, thinking he’s sneaking an advance look at a new line of video games, he taps into the country’s Norad missile-defense system to challenge its computer to a game of global thermonuclear warfare.
WarGames’ weakness, sad to say, is that the adult side of the yarn is not peopled with very realistic characters, although the performances are fine.
Ally Sheedy is perfectly perky as Broderick’s girlfriend; Dabney Coleman brings his usual dissonance to the role of the computer-reliant defense specialist; but John Wood’s large talents aren’t fully used in a somewhat confusing part as the misanthropic eccentric who designed the computer.
1983: Nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound