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Classic humanist-didactic filmmaking, effectively presented as a thriller (1983). Teenage computer freak Matthew Broderick taps into the NORAD defense system and triggers a game program that may end in World War III. John Badham, a last-minute replacement on the project, impresses with his Spielberg-inflected direction of the young actors and his efficient management of competing plot levels. But much of the credit should go to Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes, and Walon Green, whose screenplay deftly links the boy's sexual and moral maturation with a similar development on the part of the computer, thus accomplishing the thematic goal of “humanizing” technology that all the video-game movies—and video games themselves—have been striving for. With Ally Sheedy, John Wood, and Dabney Coleman. PG, 110 min.

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