Cloak & Dagger is a 1984 spy adventure film directed by Richard Franklin starring Henry Thomas, Dabney Coleman and Michael Murphy. It is a remake of the 1949 film The Window. It was originally released in a double feature with The Last Starfighter on July 13, 1984 and then released separately on August 10, 1984.
Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas) is an 11-year-old who lives in San Antonio with his father, Hal Osborne (Dabney Coleman). His mother has recently died, leaving just him and his father, a military air traffic controller who has problems relating to his child. Davey is a lonely child and is still grieving over his mother, so he immerses himself in the fantasy world of Cloak & Dagger, an espionage game which exists in both role playing and video forms. Davey has one friend, Kim, (Christina Nigra) a girl who lives nearby with her single mother. Davey is interested in the world of espionage and his hero is the character Jack Flack from the game. He wants to live an action-packed life like Jack Flack and he carries around a water pistol as his "gun" and a softball as his "grenade". Davey spends much of his free time playing Cloak & Dagger and spinning elaborate fantasies involving Jack Flack, an imaginary friend who takes the form of a more dashing version of his father (the role of Flack is also played by Coleman).
One day Daveys friend Morris (William Forsythe), who owns a video game shop in the local mall, sends Davey and Kim on an errand, where Davey witnesses a murder. Right before the victim dies, he gives Davey a Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge and says that the cartridge contains important military secrets, that he must get it to the FBI. Davey seeks help from the authorities but they simply believe him to be engaging in fantasy play.
Murderous spies, led by the malevolent Dr. Rice (Michael Murphy), chase Davey relentlessly as he flees across the city. The action moves from Daveys house, to a series of tour boats, to the Alamo. Along the way Davey manages to continually evade his pursuers with the aid and advice of the imaginary Jack Flack. However, along the way Daveys relationship with Flack becomes more strained as his own sense of morality and concern for his friend Kim collide with Flacks harsh methods and cavalier attitude. This comes to a head when Davey is cornered by Rice along the River Walk.
During the fight, Jack Flack urges Davey to set up the two spies into the "Crossfire Gambit", causing one to kill the other. Jack convinces Davey to pick up the gun of the dead spy, but rather than shoot Rice, Davey panics and runs away down a dead-end path. Rice arrives and corners Davey. Assuming the gun Davey holds is the same red ink-filled water pistol from earlier, Rice taunts him by threatening to shoot both his kneecaps and stomach and allowing him to die in agony. When Davey proves unable to shoot first, Jack Flack tries to get Rices attention. Standing in front of a blank wall (and holding his Agent-X bulletproof beret in front of him for protection), Jack dares Rice to shoot him. Davey looks to Jack, warning him not to do anything, and Rice instinctively turns and fires a burst at the wall, thinking "Jack" is a hidden ally. An enraged Davey fires his pistol, killing Rice and causing him to fall dead into the river.
Realizing that Jack had tricked him into shooting the spy, Davey throws away the pistol, pulls the miniature of Jack Flack out of his pocket and, with a shout of "I dont want to play anymore!" breaks the miniature in two, stomping it into the concrete. Jack Flack tells Davey his father behaved the same way at his age, growing tired of playing "Cowboys and Indians". As he speaks, blood begins to pour from the bullet holes that now riddle his body, and Jack abruptly collapses. While expressing regret about the rule, "...leaving when they stop believing," Jack confesses Davey was always his favorite playmate. Distracting Davey by asking for a smoke, Jack fades away into nothing. When Davey calls to Jack, saying he cant do it alone, Jacks voice reassures him that he always could, and tells him to go save Kim.
Earlier in a scene at the Alamo, Davey had been befriended by a kind elderly couple. Seemingly the only adults to believe him, or at least the only ones who are willing to humor his adventures, the couple turn out to be enforcers working for the spies. Davey manages to escape their clutches, but without the game cartridge, and he chases the couple to the airport where they are attempting to flee the country. At the airport, Davey forces the couples hand by pretending that they are his parents and that they are abandoning him. When security attempts to intervene, Davey tells the guard the proof is the game cartridge he knows they have. Cornered, the couple kidnaps Davey at gunpoint and commandeers a plane, unaware that Davey has brought with him a bomb which the spies had meant to use to kill Kim. Unwilling to listen to Davey about the bomb, the couple requests a pilot. Meanwhile, Hal has arrived at the airport with Kims mother, and after hearing about the hostage situation, he volunteers to be the pilot. As the plane moves to the runway, Davey tries to summon Jack for help; his father hears him and identifies himself as "Jack Flack" and calls Davey to the cockpit. When the female enforcer shows up to bring him, she discovers the bomb and panics, calling for her husband. As the two enforcers try to disable the bomb, Davey and his father manage to escape safely from the cockpit; the plane travels a short distance before exploding, killing the enforcers and incinerating the cartridge. The film ends with the two reunited and Davey insisting he no longer needs Jack Flack because he has his father.Henry Thomas as Davey Osborne
Dabney Coleman as Hal Osborne and Jack Flack
Michael Murphy as Dr. Rice
Christina Nigra as Kim Gardener
William Forsythe as Morris
Tim Rossovich as Haverman
Eloy Casados as Alvarez
John McIntire as George MacCready
Jeanette Nolan as Eunice MacCready
Shelby Leverington as Marilyn Gardener
Robert DoQui as Lt. Fleming
Robert Curtin as Murdoch
Filming for this movie took place on location in Henry Thomas home town of San Antonio. Scenes of the neighborhood the Osbornes lived in were filmed in the inner-loop suburb of Alamo Heights. The scenes that took place on the Riverwalk and the Japanese Sunken Gardens were filmed on location. The scenes depicting the exterior of the Alamo were filmed on location, however the interior had to be recreated because they were not allowed to film inside the Alamo. The mall scenes were filmed at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California, not San Antonios now defunct Windsor Park Mall whose location was indicated on the Atari cartridges sticker.
Critical to the movies plot is an Atari video game called Cloak & Dagger made for the Atari 5200 (The arcade version appears in the movie; the 5200 was started but never completed). The game was under development using the title Agent X when the movie producers and Atari learned of each others projects and decided to cooperate. This collaboration was part of a larger phenomenon at the time of films featuring video games as critical plot elements (as with Tron and The Last Starfighter) and of video game tie-ins to the same films (as with the Tron games for the Intellivision and other platforms).
Cloak & Dagger received positive reviews, with a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on nine reviews. On her review, Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Franklins direction, as well as the performances of Thomas and Coleman.