War Games : The Dead Code (2008)

Sequel to classic hacker movie War Games (1983) – Matthew Broderick’s first big movie.  (If you haven’t seen The Road to Wellville (1994) you should, it’s probably his best movie.  I don’t know why IMDB hates it so much – but then I haven’t seen it for 10 years or more.)

This time up, instead of JOSHUA (an AI) controlling 1983 America’s nuclear arsenal, we have RIPLEY (an AI) in control of 2008 America’s computer & utility networks (and some well armed unmanned aerial vehicles, for good measure).  RIPLEY is tasked with hunting down and killing terrorists, without the shackles of human interference.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, the way RIPLEY finds terrorists is by hosting an internet gaming site, it turns out that if you’re good at some crappy computer game, you’re probably a terrorist.  Do too well and the AI sends in the dogs.

What could possibly… Wait. What?

It turns out that ‘who is good at computer games’ is surprise, surprise, ‘some clean cut white American teenager (Matt Lanter, doing a pretty good job, all things considered), who loves his mum, and runs errands for his elderly neighbour, and has a hot girlfriend (the completely adorable Amanda Walsh), who also happens to be a hacker geek who makes cantennas and cellphone interceptors for a hobby’, that’s who.

I’m more annoyed when movies have potential, and completely fail to live up to it, and this movie does.  There are opportunities to give the Fear Industry a good kick in the ribs, and the movie does seem to hint at taking advantage of them, before devolving back into a completely ludicrous stinkfest where you DDOS the most powerful AI in the world by getting all of your friends to log into it and challenge it to computer games…

What could possibly… Ahhh, fuck it.  Fuck this fucking movie.

The actors are all just fine, the problems with this movie are everything else.

Whoever is responsible (Art Director?) for deciding that RIPLEY should look like a handful of exposed motherboards in a glass walled room, with dangly bits of ribbon cable, strobe lights and cold cathode tubes, should be shot in the reproductive organs.  With a gun.  A big one.

If you want to see how menacing an AI-gone-bad in a movie with a colon in the title should look, see 2001 : A Space Odyssey (1968).  Did HAL have dangly bits of ribbon and nightclub style strobe lights?  No, he had an unblinking one-eyed gaze, his face a simple rectangle adorned with little more than enigmatic inscrutability.  (I bring HAL up for a variety of reasons, one is that they referenced/ripped-off the lip reading scene in this movie.)

Don’t see The Dead Code, it suuuuuuuuuucks. (The movie, you see, is what went wrong.)

3 thoughts on “War Games : The Dead Code (2008)

  1. I have seen The Road to Wellville – I believe I thought it was great at the time but I haven’t seen it for ages ……. maybe it’s time to start watching movies again.

    Dylan won’t have seen it – he hasn’t seen anything.

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