8 January 2002 | fambright
An exciting, suspenseful movie
I originally saw this movie when it was on HBO, and was a bit shocked when I saw that the video cassette version describes it as "In the tradition of 'Home Alone'". That's about like saying that "Lord of the Flies" is in the tradition of "Gilligan's Island" because both stories happen to be about people marooned on a tropical island!
A better description would be to say that "Playing Dangerous" is kind of a cross between James Bond and Encyclopedia Brown (although even this description doesn't fully do it justice).
A scientist in Germany has made a revolutionary discovery, but finds out that some international terrorists are trying to steal the discovery for their own purposes. In desperation, he faxes his work to his brother in the United States, and then destroys all of the other copies of it just before the terrorists show up and kill him. The terrorists find out where he sent the fax, and go to his brother's home in the U.S. to recover it.
What they don't reckon on is the Wolfes' young son, Stuart, who happens to be a genius. By the time the terrorists arrive, Stuart has already read the fax and realized its importance, so he is determined to keep them from getting it. Then he learns that the terrorists are planning to kill his family when it is over, and he decides that he has to do whatever it takes to stop them.
The movie is exciting and suspenseful, and child actor Mikey LeBeau does an excellent job of bringing the character of Stuart Wolfe to life. But there are also some deeper aspects to the movie.
The Wolfes, at the beginning of the movie, come across as a bit of a disfunctional family: The father has been putting his job before his family. The parents ask their kids questions, but don't bother listening to the answers. But by the end of the movie, they've begun to realize what is really important in life.
And there's also a bit of a message about parenting. All good parents want their kids to become mature and independent, but it can be hard at times for parents to realize that they've succeeded, and that they need to start allowing their kids to make their own decisions, even if those decisions disagree with the choices the parents would make.
It's also refreshing to see a movie which a kid who is smart is also portrayed as cute, friendly, and likeable. It's ironic that, in a society like ours that depends on science and technology, smart people often get derogatory labels like "geek" and "nerd". One of the messages of "Playing Dangerous" is that it's cool to be smart!
I'd strongly recommend this movie to anyone who's never seen it!