Clint plays WarGames 2

Direct-to-video sequels don’t always have to suffer the same fate: largely disembowelment at the hands of studios that’ve under financed them.

If “WarGames 2 : The Dead Code” did only cost a fraction of what the original 1983 movie did – then it definitely doesn’t show on screen. As unnecessary as the sequel may be – I’ll admit, it’s quite belated – it’s turned out much, much, better than anyone (myself in particular – you all know how much of a purist I am for the classics of the 80s) could’ve ever suspected. I’d go so far as to say it might’ve even possibly had gotten away with a theatrical release, given a good marketing team behind it (and maybe a Matthew Broderick cameo).

Before I go any further let me preface this review by telling you that not only do I know one of the writer’s and one of the producer’s on the film – I also work for them. I did not however work directly on “WarGames 2”. The gentlemen in question would much rather I offered up an honest opinion about the film, than spread lies about how great it is, too – so you’ve got nothing to worry about in terms of this being a fabricated decree. It’s indeed not. I truly, enjoyed the film. Even if I didn’t, they’d expect me to say as much.

First things first, besides the return of Stephen Falken – the chap from the first film, who invented Joshua; granted, he’s played here by Gary Reineke not John Wood – nobody else from John Badham’s fun 80s techno-thriller returns for the sequel. On the other hand, it’s not as ‘in-name only’ as some might suspect though – there’s quite a few links to the original, most notably, of course, the return of a certain prehistoric computer.

Matt Lanter, who most will remember from the short-lived “Commander-in-Chief” (he played Geena Davis’s son), plays the Matthew Broderick/David of the film. A kid named Will Farmer. He’s a savvy computer/internet nut who’s always one-step ahead of those who’d wish he’d stick to playing games (the “Stargate” game gets a bit of play in this – probably because it’s also an MGM title) and not snoop around their tough-to-crack portals.

Just as Eddie Furlong does in the underrated computer-slasher flick “Brainscan” (remember that one?), Lanter’s informed about a ‘game’ that’ll blow his mind. It’s called ‘Ripley’ and is essentially a man vs. machine competition that can see the human player take home thousands in dollars of cash – by playing simulated WarGames online. Once he starts playing, he makes a new fr-enemy in Ripley – who by the end of the film will be playing WarGames with the youngster for real.

The character of Falken, now an old-man who faked his death years before, reappears to help Lanter’s character (and his babe-in-tow, played by hot newcomer Amanda Walsh ), escape the gun-carrying bad guys on his tail, as well as introduce him to the computer that can save the day… dusty old Joshua.

This is a fun flick. Not as fun as the original film. Not at all. But still, for a direct-to-video release, this is a good time. The script is good, the acting is good, the production design is inspired and the action sequences – inspired by the “Bourne” films no doubt – are well choreographed.

Fans of the original won’t be too disappointed at all.