Film: Cloak & Dagger

Not to be confused with the trope Cloak & Dagger or the superhero duo Cloak & Dagger, Cloak & Dagger is a 1980s-era video game tie-in movie.

Davey is a young boy with a vivid imagination. He pretends to be a James Bond-esque superspy named Jack Flack in games with other kids, and likes to imagine that Jack is standing beside him in daily life.

One day, Davey is on a fire escape while playing a spy-game with his friend Kim and happens to see a real FBI agent being threatened by a few bad guys. The agent escapes to the stairwell, and hands Davey a cartridge for a game called Cloak & Dagger. With his dying breath, he tells Davey to get a million points to unlock the secrets in the game; then he is shot and falls screaming down the stairwell.

Davey escapes with the Cloak & Dagger cartridge. With the help of his imaginary friend Jack, Davey has to keep his precious video game from falling into enemy hands, to protect the important national secrets it contains.

As in many other 80s movies, Cloak & Dagger features a non-traditional family: Davey's father is raising him, as his mother is recently deceased. But surprisingly, it subverts many classic family-movie tropes.

Tropes include:

  • Adults Are Useless: Davey's father, the police, and several other characters refuse to believe Davey and will not help him in any way. Even the grandparent-like elderly couple who help Davey escape the Mooks turn out to be Evil Old Folks.
  • Deadly Dodging: Jack Flack tells Davey to use the "Crossfire Gambit" when he's being pursued by two armed men. He hides under a bridge, and lets the first one pass, then jumps out and runs right past the surprised mook, while the other one fires...right into the mook.
  • Evil Old Folks: George and Eunice MacCready seem to be grandparent-like figures who are among the few to believe Davey's story. However, they are actually enforcers working for the spies whom Davey is trying to escape, and in the film's climax, they kidnap him at gunpoint and commandeer a plane to flee the country.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: After the bad guys witness Davey getting the cartridge, and fail to capture him at his home the next day, they kidnap his next-door neighbor and invoke a Hostage for MacGuffin scenario. Jack Flack tells Davey not to play along, and instead tells him to steal a normal Cloak & Dagger cartridge to use for the trade instead. The bad guys figure it out very quickly, as a sticker on the back of the cartridge gives it away.
  • Fictional Video Game: Averted. The Cloak and Dagger video game existed in Atari 2600 and Arcade versions. The version shown in the movie uses the arcade screens and is depicted as being played on the Atari 5200, a planned release which was forestalled by the Great Videogame Crash.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The FBI agent who is gunned down gives Davey the Cloak & Dagger video game cartridge containing important national secrets just before dying.
  • Imaginary Friend: Jack Flack is Davey's companion through most of the film, but only exists in Davey's imagination.
  • MacGuffin: The video game cartridge.
  • Out of the Inferno: At the end of the film, the plane the MacCreadys have commandeered and which Davey's father, Hal, has volunteered to pilot is blown up by the bomb which Davey stopped from being used to kill Kim. However, Hal emerges from the fireball unharmed.
    Hal: "Jack Flack always escapes!
  • Parental Substitute: Davey's military air traffic controller father doesn't spend much time with him due to work commitments, so Davey has invented Jack Flack as a replacement father figure.
  • Red Right Hand: The old lady's hand with only three fingers.
  • To the Pain: When Rice has Davey cornered, he boasts that while he could turn Davey into hamburger in about three seconds with the machine gun, he'd rather start with shooting him in the kneecaps...
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Inasmuch as Jack Flack is an aspect of Davey, the strong part of his imagination centered on spy games (and LARPing inside said spy games) which he built up as a coping mechanism for his Missing Mom (actually dead mom) and absent dad. Though ultimately it is self-preservation, as Jack said after he is "shot," near the end Jack urges Davey to kill one Mook by proxy using the Crossfire Gambit, then tricks Davey into directly shooting the head bad guy. Although, some part of him must have had these ideas since Jack suggested them.