John Badham
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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John Badham

Blue Thunder

War Games (1983)

While the experts of the USA government are setting up top-secret automatic fail-proof computer systems to respond to a nuclear attack, a harmless, middle-class high-school kid, David, is playing with Video games and is turning his bedroom into a mad-scientist laboratory (in the process neglecting his cute girlfriend, Jennifer). A creative hacker, he knows how to alter his grades in the school's database. One day, he accidentally stumbles into a computer that, despite hosting a parade of games, behaves differently from any other he has tried so far. David eventually manages to crack the computer's code and enter into its protected area. The computer thinks he is Dr Falken, the inventor who, before dying, devised the simulation game. He then proceeds to play "thermonuclear war" with the computer. It turns out this is the top-secret computer of the government, codenamed Joshua, which is now simulating a real-life nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The top-secret facility goes on maximum alert: the USA is ready to strike back. Luckily, David's father calls him and David has to suspend the game, giving the experts enough time to figure out that an intruder caused a glitch. The following day David and Jennifer see the news on tv that the USA went close to starting a nuclear war, and realize the connection. Joshua calls back because it wants to continue playing the game, and David, scared, hangs up.
Too late: the FBI arrests him. They have figured out who caused the glitch. David maintains that he simply wanted to play a game, but the officers suspect he is working for the Soviets and arrest him for espionage. David has realized that Joshua is still playing the game and is about to start World War III, but nobody listens to him. So he has to run away and start his own search for the secrets of the dead Dr Falken. He is joined by Jennifer, the only one who believes him. The two kids find dr Falken, who is not dead at all. The inventor tells them coldly that he hopes humans will self-destroy, so that nature can start all over again. Joshua is, in the meantime, continuing the "game": the alert level keeps increasing and the world is now on the verge of WW3. Falken has second thoughts, picks up the kids on a helicopter and flies to the base, in time to stop the president from ordering a massive strike: Falken promises that what they see on the screen is just a simulation, there are no Soviet missiles. For a few minutes they wait, while the screens show the missiles coming closer and closer, and eventually hitting the USA. Radio contact with the places that are being hit proves that they are not being hit: the computer is only playing a game. The base erupts in a joyful celebration, but now the computer keeps playing, and nobody, not even Falken, can stop it: Joshua is continuing the game, and is getting ready to fire the missiles himself. David figures out how to stop it: by engaging it in a game that has no winner (tic-tac-toe played by the computer itself against itself). Joshua goes mad, and starts simulating all possible strategies of nuclear war. The screen shows the USA and the Soviet Union being destroyed in a thousand different combinations. Eventually, Joshua stops: the game makes no sense. In a ridiculous ending, Joshua asks the inventor to play a game of chess instead.
The plot is nothing more than a version for teenager of the classic Hitchcock plot: the innocent thrown into a dangerous conspiracy who has to prove his innocence, and save the world, all by himself.

Short Circuit (1986) is a sci-fi comedy about a robot named No. 5 who is struck by lightning and becomes a sentient being.

Stakeout (1987), scripted by Jim Kouf, is a police film with plenty of action and a little bit of comedy and romance.

A young convict, Stick, beats the guard and, with the help of his cousin Caylor, escapes from prison. Chris (Dreyfuss) and Bill (Emilio Estevez) are two cops fighting crime in the streets of the city. While chasing a small-time crook, they end up in a fish-processing plant, and Chris falls in a machine slipping down the chute and getting all filthy. Back at the station, the boss asks them to help the FBI with the case of the convinct, who happens to be a sociopathic cop killer. The two cops are not excited that their assignment is simply to watch over the convict's girlfriend, Maria, just in case the man tries to contact her. Chris falls in love with the woman and, pretending to be a phone technician, makes her acquaitance. They get along and start dating. Bill keeps the secret but is nervous and several times Chris' love affair is about to be discovered by other colleagues.
Maria does not know that she has Stick's money. Stick and Caylor are chased by the police: the car chase ends in a river and the police safely assumes that both men drowned. Chris' job is over and he has to tell Maria that he has been lying to her all the time. Maria is devastated. Chris has just left that Stick, far from dead, shows up and recovers the money that has been hidden in a piece of furniture all those years. Chris returns and Stick captures him, but Chris pretends he is also running from the law. When his partner Bill breaks in to free him, Chris pretends Bill is after him, not after Stick. After a lengthy fight by the harbor, Chris, helped by Maria, kills Stick and can walk away with her.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Sara Liotta)

Stakeout (1987), dal copione di Jim Kouf, è un film poliziesco carico d’azione a tratti comico ma anche romantico.

Un giovene detenuto, Stick, colpisce la guardia e, con l’aiuto del cugino Caylor, evade di prigione. Chris (Dreyfuss) e Bill (Emilio Estevez) sono due agenti di polizia che combattono il crimine nelle strade della città. Mentre stanno inseguendo un delinquente poco importante, si ritrovano in una fabbrica per il trattamento del pesce e Chris cade, scivolando e sporcandosi tutto. Tornati alla stazione di polizia, il capo gli chiede di aiutare l’FBI con il caso del detenuto evaso, che risulta essere un omicida sociopatico fissato con gli agenti di polizia. I due poliziotti non sono affatto contenti perché il loro incarico è di controllare la fidanzata dell’evaso, Maria, nel caso che l’uomo carcasse di contattarla. Chris si innamora della donna e, fingendo di essere un tecnico della società telefonica, riesce a conoscerla. Continuano a vedersi e iniziano ad innamorarsi. Bill mantiene il segreto ma è molto nervoso e in più di un’occasione la relazione di Chris rischia di essere scoperta dagli altri colleghi.

Maria non è ha conoscenza del fatto che il denaro di Stick è a casa sua. Stick e Caylor sono inseguiti dalla polizia: la macchina cade in un fiume e i poliziotti credono che entrambi gli uomini siano annegati. Il compito di Chris è terminato e ora deve dire a Maria che le ha mentito per tutto il tempo. Maria è sconvolta. Chris è appena andato via quando arriva Stick, tutt’altro che morto, recupera il denaro che aveva nascosto in un mobile e che era rimasto lì per tutti quegli anni. Chris ritorna e Stick lo cattura, ma Chris finge di essere anche lui uno che scappa dalla legge. Quando il suo compagno Bill entra nell’appartamento per liberarlo, Chris finge che Bill sia lì per arrestare lui e non Stick. Dopo una lunga lotta vicino al porto, Chris, aiutato da Maria, uccide Stick e vanno via insieme.

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