ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: WarGames

Updated on December 17, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Jason Wheeler is the Senior Writer and Editor at Film Frenzy. He reviews films from across the cinematic landscape.


In 1983, John Badham released WarGames, which starred Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Barry Corbin, Juanin Clay, Dennis LIpscomb, Doe Dorsey, Michael Ensign, William Bogert, John Spencer, Michael Madsen, Alan Blumenfeld, and Ally Sheedy. The film grossed $79.5 million at the box office.


David Lightman nearly sets World War III into motion by unknowingly hacking into a government supercomputer named the War Operation Plan Response (WOPR) and playing a game. However, the computer doesn’t know the difference between games and reality and the government suspects him of being a Soviet spy. Now it’s a race against time to stop the computer from unleashing nuclear war.


The second film that Matthew Broderick ever starred in, WarGames is a fun and surprisingly good film, considering the hidden depths seen in David's character. Initially, he may seem flat in every possible way, but as the film progresses, he becomes much more round. In an effort to have fun by showing off his hacking skills, he finds his way into government servers and starts playing what he thinks are computer games. He’s not being willfully malicious, he’s just being a rebellious teenager who wants to have fun with the technology he has. When he’s picked up by the government, he knows he’s not a Soviet spy and any digging into his background would prove it and he’d probably only get a slap on the wrist for his hacking, but he doesn’t know what’s going on and reacts like any teenager would react to being picked up by the feds: he panics. The depth comes in when he’s speaking with Professor Falkner about why the latter doesn’t want to stop the world from ending. He’s able to succinctly give him a verbal slap in the face by making him realize that he’s just been going through the motions until he really is dead and hasn’t cared about anything since his son died.

Though it's a computer, the film also presents WOPR as an interesting character that even goes through character development. At first, it doesn’t understand that David is only playing a game as the Russians and actually does trigger the threat. A simulation normally wouldn’t be all that bad, except the computer doesn’t understand it’s a simulation and wants the Americans to launch so the threat will be met. When they don’t because nothing happens, it tries to launch them itself because it doesn’t know that there are some things it just can’t win. In a great scene, David helps it learn that by making it play tic-tac-toe by itself, where it goes through very single iteration of every launch to learn that a global thermonuclear was is unwinnable. It does end humorously too. At the beginning, it asks David if he would rather play chess than launch simulated nukes. After all is said and done, it muses how a game where the only way to win is not to play is strange and wants to play chess instead.

The film doesn’t have a true antagonist either. It can’t be David as he’s initially just a clueless hacker who’s only trying to have some fun, thinking he hacked into a video game company. He doesn’t understand that he’s almost condemned the world to a fiery death until he comes face to screen with WOPR and realizes the implications of his actions. At that point, he tries to fix and undo everything. The WOPR can’t be an antagonist either as it’s only following programming, doesn’t understand the difference between reality and a simulation, and doesn’t realize that some things are just plain unwinnable. If there had to be an antagonist, it would seem that the most likely fit would be time itself as the characters don’t have that long to make WOPR understand that it really can’t win with nuclear weapons.

4 stars for WarGames

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion

Awards won

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Sound

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Director

American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards

  • Best Edited Feature Film

Satellite Awards

  • Best Youth DVD (25th Anniversary Edition)

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Sound

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Production Design/Art Direction
  • Best Special Visual Effects

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Actor (Matthew Broderick)
  • Best Actress (Ally Sheedy)
  • Best Supporting Actor (John Wood)
  • Best Writing

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

Writers Guild of America Awards

  • Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Family Feature Motion Picture
  • Best Young Motion Picture Actress in a Feature Film (Ally Sheedy)


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)