WarGames: The Dead Code

"Good"

WarGames: The Dead Code Review


Even I have trouble believing that the proto-cyberpunk classic WarGames is a whopping 25 years old. What kid didn't want an IMSAI 8080 back in the day so he could change his grades... and get a girlfriend like mega-hottie Ally Sheedy? Oh, and save the world while he's at it.

Director Stuart Gillard dutifully follows up the still-precient original with another installment of WarGames. It's not quite a sequel, not quite a remake... though it ostensibly continues the story not of David Lightman (Matthew Broderick in the original), but rather of whatever happened to the W.O.P.R. (aka Joshua) and its creator, Stephen Falken.

The action this time out takes place in the present, and we learn early on that a computer named R.I.P.L.E.Y. is used to track down international terrorisms through what appears to be a harmless online game called The Dead Code. The theory goes -- rather preposterously, I have to say -- that if a player is good enough at The Dead Code (it involves wagering real money and then flying a plane through city streets, deploying biochemical poisons to kill off the citizens), then he must be a real terrorist.

Naturally, our hero Will Farmer (Matt Lanter) plays the game, wins, and R.I.P.L.E.Y. decides that Farmer is a threat. Ultimately the computer decides, on its own, to neutralize that threat by nuking the city of Philadelphia. Wonder who'll have to put a stop to it?

All the hallmarks of the original WarGames are here, but modestly updated for the '00s. Will plays World of Warcraft and gets lots done via cell phone instead of Global Thermonuclear War. But so much of The Dead Code is recycled from the original that it misses many opportunities to explore what's new in the world of computer crime and digital terrorism. Instead we get Farmer trotting around the country (and into Montreal) with a lovely and semi-clueless but earnest lass (Tina Rashe) in tow. The ending, though, is what's really upsetting, offering yet another scene where Will, just like his predecessor David, is sequestered in a War Room, goading a computer into playing a game against itself so it can learn that killing people just isn't the answer.

Fans of the original will find plenty to like here (including a surprise appearance by a certain iconic computer who will remain nameless), but casual moviegoers won't get the in-jokes and won't care about the plot.



WarGames: The Dead Code

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 29th July 2008

Distributed by: Fox Home Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 4.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Stuart Gillard

Producer: , Irene Litinsky

Starring: as Will Farmer, Amanda Walsh as Annie D'Mateo, as Dr. Stephen Falken, as T. Kenneth Hassert / Joshua

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