Monday, February 22, 2021

Random Thoughts on Cloak & Dagger

Richard Franklin's Cloak & Dagger (1984) is certainly a lot more violent than I expected from what seems to be a film targeted at kids. Our tween protagonist (played by Henry Thomas of E.T. fame), hunted by spies after he accidentally winds up with an Atari 5200 cartridge that has top secret military blueprints hidden within, is directly or indirectly responsible for at least four deaths (bad guys, but still), gets stuffed in a trunk with the dead body of an adult friend (shot through the back of the head a few minutes earlier), sees his girl friend kidnapped, gets held at gunpoint more than once, and thinks for a moment his dad's been blown up. There's also an uncomfortably realistic moment where some innocent airport worker gets shot in the leg at close range; his agonized reaction is incredibly effective. Great acting from a bit player! 

According to Wikipedia, Atari and Universal were working on an arcade game and a film, respectively, called Agent X. When the creators of the two projects got wind of each other, they agreed to cooperate, changing the name of the game/film to Cloak & Dagger. Atari supplied graphics from the arcade game, though in the guise of a (never-released) 5200 version of the game. There's also a ton of Atari project placement in the movie, concentrated in the computer store where the two kid protagonists hang out. 

A strange movie from a strange era. I don't believe I ever played, or even saw, the arcade game. I wonder if it's any good . . .

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Digging farther into the Wikipedia page brought this link, which has some artwork from the game including the secret document that is at the heart of the story, a YouTube video of some gameplay, and an extremely comprehensive 75 page owner's manual, complete with illustrations only the game owner would see. Wowsers!

https://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=7353