WarGames: The Dead Code
This movie sucks. Just in case you’re the kind of person who doesn’t read more than the first sentence of a review, I wanted to make sure I got that right in front. If you’re the kind of person who only reads the first paragraph of a review, I’d also like to mention that it’s rare that I actually review something relatively close to when it was actually released, so I’m hoping that I can actually warn you away from this piece of crap before you waste time and/or money on it. Please, please do not waste time and/or money on this movie.
If you really care, the review below contains spoilers.
The original WarGames, while is might not be the best movie ever made, is clever and, while it takes some liberties with the capabilities of computers, actually does a very good job of accurately portraying what computers were like in the mid-80s when it was released. I’m pretty sure that nobody involved with the making of WarGames: The Dead Code has never used, or even seen, an actual computer in their life. Yes, I’m even including the crew who did the CGI special effects. They must have done them via FedEx or something, I don’t know.
Now to be fair, while there are some portions of the film where it feels like I’m watching a high school play, I think the acting was actually fairly competent. With the exception of a single horrible song during the end credits, I think the soundtrack was competent. And the special effects crew actually did a decent job of making it all look relatively real. In fact, this movie has nearly all the ingredients in place to create a decently entertaining, or at least not terrible, B-level direct-to-video film. Until it was all sabotaged by Randall M. Badat and Rob Kerchner.
You see, Randall M. Badat and Rob Kerchner (hereafter referred to as Wingus and Dingus) wrote WarGames: The Dead Code, apparently on their vintage 1904 Underwood typewriter. They could afford their antique typewriter using royalties from the product placement, but more about that later. The problem, as I suggested above, is that Wingus and Dingus here have never actually used a computer before in their lives. They’ve also never talked to anybody who’s ever used a computer. In fact, until the last half-hour of the movie, I was beginning to doubt that they’d even seen WarGames!
The movie starts with some pointless T&A when a whole bunch of Russian prostitutes are hired by some terrorist group, which is then promptly bombed by a UAV piloted by the evil computer R.I.P.L.E.Y. (which probably stands for something but I’d have to watch the movie again to confirm that and nothing doing!)
After that, the two main characters are introduced. You can tell Dennis is a “hacker” because he is playing Stargate: Worlds. Product placement! (As Hollywood has been telling us for years, anybody interested in video games must be a computer hacker and, in fact, video games have little other purpose than masking hacking attempts. The Dead Code is no different.) To be more accurate, he’s playing what is obviously some kind of trailer or promotional video for the game, since he’s basically just randomly wailing on the keyboard to control his character, and when the character dies we’re instantly taken to a huge promotional wallpaper for the game. Get used to it; in this weird alternative universe, virtually all computers have huge promotional wallpapers for Stargate: Worlds. Product placement!
Also speaking of getting used to stupid things, virtually every computer in this movie is controlled by people spazzing out on keyboards. Having never seen a computer before, I suppose I can excuse Wingus and Dingus for not understanding the purpose of a mouse.
Dennis then tries to talk his buddy Will into playing World of Warcraft, but Will refuses since he’s still paying off his debt from the last time. Wingus and Dingus seem to believe that you can somehow lose $2000 gambling on World of Warcraft. You can’t; but the real tragedy here is that if the dull duo had spent any time actually talking to a gamer, they’d learn that there are online multiplayer games you can gamble money on. WOW just isn’t one of them. And “Blood Fangore?” What even is that?
Instead of playing WOW, they decide to play a game on a new gambling site called “The Dead Code.” Mostly because R.I.P.L.E.Y.’s icon for the game is a poorly-drawn pixelized cartoon of a woman in camouflage that Dennis thinks is “hot.” In this game, you play a terrorist with access to a UAV full of biological and chemical weapons, and are charged with flying it over an urban area and killing as many people as possible before the authorities manage to shoot you down. Oh, the game is actually run by some stereotypical men-in-black types. If you reach level 5, you’re declared to be a terrorist and R.I.P.L.E.Y. kills you using a UAV. You heard it here first, folks: if you gamble on the Internet, you’re a terrorist!
Will is doing good at the game, but at one point he runs out of his chemical weapon (or something happens to make it go away, it was vague on that point) and is asked to choose a new biological weapon. He gets the choice of sarin or weaponized anthrax. If you pick anthrax, you are actually a world-renowned expert on biological weapons, at least according to the men-in-black. Since there are only two choices given, I’m guessing that 50% of the planet is actually world-renowned experts on biological weapons.
In the game the number of people you kill is called the “morbidity rate.” At first I thought this was a typo in the script but, no, Wingus and Dingus actually use the term “morbidity rate” consistently throughout the movie whenever they actually mean “mortality rate.” And nobody corrected it! Even the CGI guys put “morbidity rate” on the R.I.P.L.E.Y. readout! (“Morbidity rate” makes me think: “oh my God! They’re going to turn people into goths!”
Of course Dennis and Will are both declared to be terrorists by the mysterious shadow government and Dennis is captured. (Will manages to get on a flight to Toronto.) The men-in-black question Dennis for awhile in an airport parking garage, using the usual “we’re above the law” cliche used in all terrible movies, until they finally realize he’s not the one they’re looking for and they apparently just let him go.
Will meets up with his weird-looking love interest, Annie, in Toronto. They quickly realize that they’re being chased by R.I.P.L.E.Y. who apparently has unrestricted access to every surveillance camera ever built. And controls the Canadian police. And can fly an armed UAV from the middle east to Toronto in only a few minutes.
There’s a “cute” scene where they are hungry and want to order a hot dog, but neither of them knows how to say “hot dog” in French. It turns out that the hot dog vendor speaks English! Ha ha! Wingus and Dingus, that would actually have been a charming scene were it not for the fact that everybody in Toronto speaks English! You retards!
And the plot develops into a long and boring chase sequence until they meet up with, gasp, Professor Falkin! (Not the same actor, of course.) He’s been keeping tabs on the whole situation in some manner that isn’t fully explained, and came to help them shut down R.I.P.L.E.Y. for good. Did I mention that R.I.P.L.E.Y. decided to kill everybody in Philadelphia because Will’s mom works for a chemical company? That’s actually the plot of the movie; try and pretend it makes any sense.
Falkin takes the kids to an old power station outside of the city where W.O.P.R. is being used to run Toronto’s power grid, apparently. He starts up the “Joshua” program, and sets it to task attacking R.I.P.L.E.Y. The power station gets bombed by a UAV (killing Falkin, if I recall correctly; it says a lot for the crappiness of this movie that I don’t remember nor care whether a main character dies) and Will and Annie get brought to the men-in-black’s headquarters.
The end of the movie revolves around hacking into an MMO game to use the players’ computers to DoS the evil computer. The game used is Stargate: Worlds, which is coincidentally also an MGM property. Unfortunately, Wingus and Dingus prominently show Stargate: Worlds running on a Macintosh when it’s only planned to be released for Windows. Even the product placement for this movie is a fail. Of course the DoS “distraction” was enough for W.O.P.R. to take over and tell R.I.P.L.E.Y. to run the Global Thermonuclear War simulation and realize that “the only winning move is not to play,” thus saving the world. Yawn.
WarGames: The Dead Code is so bad it’s actually made me hate the original WarGames. The one and only redeeming feature is that they used the same W.O.P.R. prop. Avoid. And if you’re Randall M. Badat or Rob Kerchner, please take this opportunity to die in a fire. Thank you.