Tuesday, July 10, 2024

War Games

The film is set late in the Cold War period, opening on a U.S. Air Force base where its missile launch crew receives orders to launch nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union; when the base's Commander (played by John Spencer) fails to launch their missiles, this is revealed to be part of a larger psychological experiment by the military, testing whether U.S. missile crews would do the same in the event of a real nuclear attack. It is mentioned that twenty-two percent of crews tested failed to launch their missiles, prompting NORAD to install an automated computer system, the "War Operation Plan Response" or WOPR, to oversee launching of U.S. nuclear missiles.

The film's protagonist, David Lightman, is introduced as a hacker in high school, whose gaming addiction has resulted in low grades, which he covers up by illicitly accessing the school's computer database and manually adjusting his reported grades, as well as the low grades of a girl he has a crush on, Jennifer. While performing a computerized telephone search in an attempt to locate and play the games of the fictional "Protovision" in Sunnyvale, California (incidentally the real life location of the then-ubiquitous Atari), David discovers a connection to the WOPR, although without a password, he is unable to gain access to anything more than a list of games.


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