Yes, we know that Matthew Broderick is and forever will be Ferris Bueller (you know, the guy who took the most famous day in history off?), but three years before he brought Ferris to life, he was a computer nerd who almost destroyed the world in WarGames. Admittedly there are some basic things out there that are nothing new by today’s standards, among them Hollywood’s love for machines taking over the world, video games, the Internet and, yes, computer nerds. But 35 years ago, when WarGames was released, all of it was new and, in some ways, frightening in terms of what it was projecting.
In the film, Matthew plays David Lightman, a young hacker, who, in the pursuit of hacking into what he thinks are computer games, inadvertently comes into contact with the US military’s supercomputer WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), which was designed to predict outcomes from potential nuclear war. Thinking he’s communicating with a game system, he activates the Joshua program (which made famous the phrase, “Would you like to play a game?”), triggering the countdown for what will likely be World War III as nuclear missiles begin preparing for launch, triggering similar responses from countries around the world. What follows is a race against the clock as David, along with classmate Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy), must locate Dr. Steven Falken, the creator of Joshua, before it’s too late. At the same time, they’re also trying to elude the government, which views them as Soviet spies.
WarGames follows such other machines run amok films as 1968’s 2001 and the Hal 9000 (the voice of which, Douglas Rain, has just passed away) and 1970’s Colossus: The Forbin Project, but it’s preceded the Terminator franchise, the Matrix trilogy, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, and even Wall-E, among others.
The film is written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes and directed by John Badham. Both Walter and John look back at the making of the film through exclusive interviews. Just scroll down to see what they have to say.