Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Talk about a pointless exercise. I don’t think I’ve seen ‘Wargames’ since I saw the first movie back in high school some twenty five years ago, so my recollection of that movie is vague at best with the only thing standing out is that the machine played Tic-Tac-Toe, Ferris Beuller was in it before he became Ferris Beuller and Ally Sheedy had a really nice ass. I also remember liking the movie somewhat but I was fifteen at the time and as such I liked a lot of stuff that would probably disgust me today, but the original does seem to have a tiny cult following. This leads us to the always cherished Direct to Video sequel, which especially for this movie, ‘Wargames: The Dead Code’, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea since most cell phones have more computing horse power than the that Super War Computer in the original Wargames and as such seems like an idea that might do well in a more modern setting. Oh well, so much for that theory.

As our film opens where a group of brown terrorist looking dudes are whooping it up and unloading Tahoe’s full of weapons and hookers when an unmanned craft drops a bomb on their party completely ruining their celebration. Turns out this operation was carried out by the computer RIPLEY, the brainchild of Department of Defense stud T. Kenneth Hassert (Colm Feore) who has crafted a rather clever automated way to track terrorist using online videogames.

Now lets meet our person of interest Will Farmer (Matt Lattner), a genius high school senior, even though he looks like he’s almost thirty, who could turn a rock into an I-Mac if he had to because he’s so smart. However if Will was really smart he wouldn’t be fixing his Syrian neighbors computer, looking into his super fat bank account and listening to his BFF Dennis (Nicholas Wright) who convinces Will to temporarily take money out of his Syrian neighbors account so he can wager it on an online game. The reason that Will does this unwise thing is because he has the hots for his classmate

Annie (Amanda Walsh), which is cool because she looks like she’s almost thirty too, who is pretty damned smart herself. Annie is on her way to a chess tournament and Will wants to go too, but since he has no loot so why not just temporarily borrow money from your Neighbor from a Terrorist Sponsoring Country? Sounds like a plan.

Of course Will kicks total ass in the game which sets RIPLEY’s alarms off. Soon Will becomes a ‘person of interest’ and the more they learn about this seemingly harmless teen the more things start to fall in place, for instance like his mother working for a chemical company making ‘mouthwash’… yeah right. Or the mystery involving the death of his father. Soon RIPLEY is pretty convinced that Will is straight up Al-Qaeda with the elderly high school student suddenly finding himself, along with his girly girl, on the run in Montreal. Unfortunately it looks like RIPLEY is about to go SkyNet on us and begins to make some arbitrary decisions, minus the human input, involving nuclear weapons and Washington D.C., that is unless somebody or something can teach the rogue computer about the error in her logic.

I’m talking to this cat at work who actually liked this movie, so you may like it to, and I tell him my first issue with this movie is the concept that we have setup an online videogame to trap terrorist. My thinking is that most online games are dominated by folks who have time to master these games, which mainly consist of suburban kids, thus most of the people who achieve these amazing levels on these games which will alert Ripley would be these suburban kids since I’m thinking that Osama Bin-Laden isn’t spending too much time playing World of Warcraft. He tells me that ‘it could happen’. Can’t argue with that. I then say, especially considering the trouble that happened with the first movie involving a computer we allowed to make all the critical decisions, why in the HELL would we give that power back to another computer again? He pauses for a moment then says, ‘well… if they didn’t then there wouldn’t be a movie’. Thank you sir for making my point. It’s not that ‘Wargames: The Dead Code’ was an altogether bad movie, it just seemed like it was a pointless movie since it was basically an updated and lackluster retelling of the old movie.

There were some good things about the movie in that it was plenty slick, Stuart Gillard is like the most prolific director you’ve never heard of and has helmed more stuff than Jebus and as such uses his considerable experience to keep this pointless exercise moving along but that’s really about it for the good stuff. When the narrative isn’t wildly outlandish it’s very basic and very predictable and by the time it comes time for the clock to tick down to triple zero and stuff to go blooey, unless this is the first time you’ve seen this particular scenario in a movie, it will generate almost no dramatic impact.

Movies are expensive and difficult to make. I get this. But I’m thinking there could have been better use for these dollars than a rehash of a halfway decent 25 year old movie. Next I guess we’ll be seeing remakes of other somewhat obscure 80’s movies like ‘Blue Thunder: Rise of the Chopper’, ‘Eight Million and one ways to Die’ or ‘The Last Dragon: Return of Sho Nuff’. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing that last one.

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