Direct-to-video sequels donâ€™t always have to suffer the same fate: largely disembowelment at the hands of studios thatâ€™ve under financed them.
If â€œWarGames 2 : The Dead Codeâ€ did only cost a fraction of what the original 1983 movie did – then it definitely doesnâ€™t show on screen. As unnecessary as the sequel may be â€“ Iâ€™ll admit, itâ€™s quite belated â€“ itâ€™s turned out much, much, better than anyone (myself in particular â€“ you all know how much of a purist I am for the classics of the 80s) couldâ€™ve ever suspected. Iâ€™d go so far as to say it mightâ€™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 writerâ€™s and one of the producerâ€™s on the film â€“ I also work for them. I did not however work directly on â€œWarGames 2â€. 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 â€“ so youâ€™ve got nothing to worry about in terms of this being a fabricated decree. Itâ€™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 â€“ the chap from the first film, who invented Joshua; granted, heâ€™s played here by Gary Reineke not John Wood â€“ nobody else from John Badhamâ€™s fun 80s techno-thriller returns for the sequel. On the other hand, itâ€™s not as â€˜in-name onlyâ€™ as some might suspect though â€“ thereâ€™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 â€œCommander-in-Chiefâ€ (he played Geena Davisâ€™s son), plays the Matthew Broderick/David of the film. A kid named Will Farmer. Heâ€™s a savvy computer/internet nut whoâ€™s always one-step ahead of those whoâ€™d wish heâ€™d stick to playing games (the â€œStargateâ€ game gets a bit of play in this â€“ probably because itâ€™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 â€œBrainscanâ€ (remember that one?), Lanterâ€™s informed about a â€˜gameâ€™ thatâ€™ll blow his mind. Itâ€™s called â€˜Ripleyâ€™ and is essentially a man vs. machine competition that can see the human player take home thousands in dollars of cash â€“ by playing simulated WarGames online. Once he starts playing, he makes a new fr-enemy in Ripley â€“ 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 Lanterâ€™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 dayâ€¦ 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 â€“ inspired by the â€œBourneâ€ films no doubt â€“ are well choreographed.
Fans of the original wonâ€™t be too disappointed at all.