80s Odyssey: Defense Play (1988)

One of the things I’ve always loved about writing is coming up with fun headlines or recurring feature titles, so when I realized that I could have called these posts 80s Oddyssey, I had a pangs of regret. Pangs! Ah well, I don’t feel like going back and changing them all, so I’ll just keep it the way it is. I did give 80s Odyssey its own category though finally if you’re curious about other similar posts.

Anyway, when I was on my real 80s movie kick just before Lucy was born, I added a ton of movies to our Netflix Instant Queue, which are still hanging out around the top of the queue. I have a tendency to skip over the top 20 or so movies for some reason, trying to look for some more interesting deep cuts, but the other day I decided to go for it with Defense Play a movie that reminded me of flicks like Manhattan Project or War Games, but also with some slasher and espionage elements thrown in for good measure. It’s not exactly a lost gem and might life more from those other movies I mentioned than I remember (it’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen them), but I did find Defense Play to be a pretty fun little romp.

The story stars Scott, a kid whose dad is in the military and who happens to be something of a computer genius. He befriends the daughter of a scientist working at a college who has developed some tiny, unmanned helicopters that can be controlled remotely and also shoot lasers when need be. Mystery arises when one of the helicopters comes to life and kills the scientist leading Scott and the girl to figure out exactly what happened.

I mentioned above that the movie had some slasher elements to it and I think that’s why I wound up liking it more than I might have otherwise. There are plenty of scenes with the copter being piloted by a mysterious operator stalking its intended victim. Instead of focusing on the masked killer as they would in a slasher flick, we instead see shadowy hands on a joystick or the front of the helicopter staring blankly at its target. They even had a few scenes where the victim was stumbling backwards doing that whole “YOU? Why are you doing this to me?” thing, which was laughable, but fun.

I won’t get into the espionage stuff because it’s pretty much spoiler territory, but all in all, Defense Play wound up being a kind of intense, fun genre mash-up flick with that 80s charm I love. Also, it was kind of fun watching these computers do what audiences in the 80s would have found amazing or too ridiculous to believe but most of which can be done with our smart phones today. Except the lasers. I don’t think there’s an app for that yet.

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