1984 / Director. Richard Franklin.
CLOAK & DAGGER is a wonderful family movie from the mid-80s... but it's something of an oddity. It tells the story of a young boy who dreams of being a secret agent. His imaginary friend is a world-class spy and together with a little girl from his neighbourhood, everyday chores are conjured into high adventure. I say that this is an oddity and here's why. When this kid witnesses a real murder and is entrusted with a microchip hidden inside a game cartridge, he is thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse. Bad guys need the microchip and they will kill whoever stands in their way, including our young hero. For a family movie it sure is full-on. Richard Franklin brings his well-known Hitchcockian flavour to this movie and delivers a really challenging story for young viewers. The idea of this kid being the subject of countless hitmen is confronting. Of course no one believes him and the adults assume that his over-active imagination is at play again. The film is well cast with Henry Thomas in the lead. He was fresh from ET and a bankable face at the time. I have always found his acting style to be precocious but he's effective nonetheless. Dabney Coleman is excellent in a dual role... he plays both the father and the imaginary secret agent. Both of his characters are completely different and he pulls them off convincingly. The biggest mind-bender, however, is William Forsythe as an overweight computer geek. He's hardly recognisable. CLOAK & DAGGER came at a time when gamer-themed movies were hot property... titles like War Games, Tron and The Last Star Fighter were dominating screens. This film came along on their coat tails and promised a familiar genre... but it delivered something far more daring and unique. This is a thriller for kids and it packs a wallop as far as I'm concerned. Intelligent, exciting and super fun.