Return to the ’80s Movies: Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Starring
Henry Thomas
Dabney Coleman
Christina Nigra
Michael Murphy

Directed by Richard Franklin

Rated PG

Runtime 1 hours 41 minutes

Released July 13, 1984 (with The Last Starfighter)
August 10, 1984 (by itself)

Synopsis: A young boy, with a penchant for spy thrillers and video games, finds himself in the middle of real espionage when he’s relentlessly pursued by spies after he comes into possession of a video game cartridge containing top-secret government info.imdb

Last time I had seen this? Probably around 1985. I either saw it on HBO or rented it whenever it became available. I had not seen this since then.

What I knew about this movie before watching it (again): I remember that I did love this movie when I was younger. I remember it being better than I expected. There was a lot of action, which I enjoyed.

Review: Cloak & Dagger was just as good as I remembered. Only this time, I have seen it from the adult perspective instead of a child’s/teenager’s. The movie stars Henry Thomas, who we all know as Elliot from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. This time he plays Davey Osborne, a kid with a very active imagination. It also stars Dabney Coleman in a dual role – Davey’s father Hal, as well as Jack Flack, the man who always escapes. Usually when you hear that an actor or actress is playing against type, that means that they usually play a hero, but they play a villain in a particular movie. In this film, Dabney Coleman is playing against type. But this time, instead of playing a jerk, he is the hero. And he pulls it off beautifully.

Davey is an only child whose mother had just recently died. His father is a military air traffic controller, who does not spend much time with his child. So, this leads Davey to have an active imagination, as he immerses himself into fantasy world of Cloak & Dagger, a role playing game, as well as a video game. Davey always takes the role of Jack Flack, who also becomes Davey’s imaginary friend that just happens to resemble Davey’s father. Davey longs for adventure, and wants to be like his hero, Jack Flack.

One day Davey’s friend Morris (William Forsythe), who owns a video game shop, sends Davey and Davey’s friend Kim (Christina Nigra) on an errand.

Davey played it like a reconnaissance mission. So, when they got in the building, Davey and Kim went their separate ways. Davey is in a stairwell, and witnessed somebody being shot. Just before the victim died, he gave Davey a Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge. Oh, let me correct myself. He handed Davey an Atari Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge. Geez, first Henry Thomas was shilling Reeses Pieces in E.T. Now he is shilling for Atari! Product placement was alive and well – even back then. Anyway, the victim tells Davey that the cartridge contains important military secrets, that he must get it to the FBI. When Davey gets help and brings people to the crime scene, there are no assailants, and no dead body. Was Davey just using his imagination, or was this really happening?

I have to admit, I was kind of thinking the adults were right, and that this was all in Davey’s head. Even throughout the movie, I was thinking that the movie would end by showing that this whole thing was made up by Davey. However, I’m pretty sure that when I was younger, and first watched this, I just knew it was real. Man, I really need to get my own imagination back!

Throughout the rest of the movie, Davey is on the run from the people who are after that game/computer chip. With the help of Jack Flack (who only Davey can see), he constantly evades his pursuers. The action sequences are very good. , who were led by Michael Murphy. There is a pretty cool cat-and-mouse sequence on tour boats. And there was another close call at The Alamo. Finally, Davey has had enough, and does not want to play anymore. But, nobody told the big baddies. The finale is pretty action packed and intense.

Does the movie stand the test of time? The story itself still stands the test of time. However, as much as most of us hate to admit, video games have advanced just a bit since Atari’s heyday. I loved the action sequences. No CGI needed here! However, there was a special effect in the end that just looked horrible. It involved a way too obvious green screen. This also takes place at the height of The Cold War in the ’80s. Although it feels like a Cold War is returning, we are not totally immersed in the espionage world yet. Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if somebody does a remake of this movie. Especially in this unoriginal day and age when remakes of our treasured movies are running rampant.

Worth the Return? I think it is definitely worth a Return viewing! The story and action scenes are still outstanding, and it is fun to see an Atari game again.

Rating 4 Cloak & Dagger game cartridges

 

Please let me know if you’ve seen this movie and what you think of it. And did you have Atari or another type of game system? And did you have a favorite game? I would have liked to have Atari, but I had Intellivision. I did love my Intellivision. Some of my favorites were Astrosmash, Shark, Shark and Lock ‘n’ Chase (Intellivisaion’s version of Pacman).

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2 thoughts on “Return to the ’80s Movies: Cloak & Dagger (1984)”

  1. I’m sure I would love this movie. And yes, we did have those cartridges ( Of course I didn’t get to play them, but my siblings did… 20 games per cartridge ! ( Mostly Konami ) In fact, it was my mother that played these games, and according to my siblings, she was a very good player. She could finish Mario in 30 minutes. They loved watching her play the games.

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