Review: WarGames: The Dead Code (2008)


Directed by: Stuart Gillard | 95 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Matt Lanter, Amanda Walsh, Colm Feore, Gary Reineke, Susan Glover, Nicolas Wright, Chuck Shamata, Maxim Roy, Trevor Hayes, Claudia Ferri, Vlasta Vrana, Ricky Mabe, Claudia Black, Russell Yuen, Robert Hifer, John Maclaren, John Koensgen, Alberto Delburgo, Lucinda Davis

“Wargames” was a popular movie in the 1980s, one that many people think back to with warm feelings. A very young debuting Matthew Broderick stole the show in this high-tech thriller, which came out at a time when computers were still mysterious. More than a quarter of a century later, “WarGames: The Dead Code” follows. By now, the majority of households already have such a thing at home and the mysterious and threatening thing is somewhat removed.

“WarGames: The Dead Code” is neither a remake nor a sequel, the only thing both films have in common is the WOPR or Joshua and its creator, Professor Stephen Falken. “Wargames” has received a 21st century makeover, meaning Joshua has since been taken over by R.I.P.L.E.Y. (not the only lame reference to other films), a supercomputer, and the political situation is also very 2008, because instead of the cold war we are concerned about the War on Terror.

Our hero is Philadelphia-based intelligent Will Farmer, adequately portrayed by Matt Lanter – not quite as fun as Matthew Broderick, but he does the job. His comrade, Dennis Nichols (Nicolas Wright) urges him to play an online game, which, however, is R.I.P.L.E.Y.’s way of finding out if you are a potential terrorist. Playing the game costs a lot of money – Will gets this by looting his Syrian neighbor’s bank account (he wants to pay it back if he wins) – and if you’re good enough to pass a certain level, you must be a terrorist . If you want to have fun with “Wargames: The Dead Code”, you have to ditch all your sense of logic from this moment on. Meanwhile, Will manages to gain favor with the attractive Annie D’Mateo (Amanda Walsh), who is not only handsome in looks, but also uses her brain optimally: she plays chess and manages to thwart Will’s intrusion into her PC …

At the Ministry of Intelligence and Information we meet the team behind R.I.P.L.E.Y. who just automatically eliminated a group of suspected terrorists with a precision of 98.6%. Proud of his ‘girl’ is head of department, T. Kenneth Hassert (Colm Feore), but when Will gets to the level that gave him a red flag by his name, all alarm bells ring and not just become Will’s neighbor arrested, also his mother, who works at a chemical factory (and therefore has plenty of options to make a bomb) is taken away. Will doesn’t know anything yet, he’s on his way to Montréal for a chess match, because of Annie. At the airport, he notices that something is wrong, he involves Annie in the whole and the rest of the film brings the two of them fleeing from the team behind R.I.P.L.E.Y. by. Stephen Falken lends a hand and in the end, Will must make sure Joshua takes on R.I.P.L.E.Y.

“WarGames: The Dead Code” is a mostly redundant movie. As mentioned, the film lacks almost any kind of logic. That wouldn’t be so bad, if only the story could be followed, but here too screenwriter Randall Badat has gone wrong. It is often impossible to make any sense: characters are just dismissed, Hassert turns like a leaf on a tree, the computers are assigned properties that will make anyone with an ounce of knowledge of IT burst out laughing, … make you happy. Fortunately, the expectations of most fans from the first hour will not be too high and with that approach there is still fun to be had with the film. Typical case of zeroing your mind, looking and forgetting afterwards.