When I was attempting to look up a quote for this movie, I ran across the “Jack Flack’s final bow scene” in the list of quotes and started feeling a little tickle in my throat. It took me back and I could picture that entire scene all over again. When Jack tells Davey that he was, “the best playmate I ever had,” I lost it every time. I get so damn invested in these things, it’s ridiculous. My dad was the same way.
Jack Flack is an imaginary friend that Davey hangs out with in “Cloak and Dagger.” Davey is a boy whose mother has died, and he yearns to spend more time with his dad, played by the underrated Dabney Coleman.
My experience with Coleman in movies was always that of the antagonist, or at least characters of questionable integrity (“9 to 5,” “Tootsie” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” “War Games,”). He starts out appearing to be heading down that same path as the dad that is always annoyed with his bored son.
Enter Jack Flack, who looks exactly like Davey’s father, only he is dressed in tack gear and wears a black beret (I went and bought a damn beret after this movie and wore it all the time with my camo pants…shoot me in the face).
Davey is consumed by video games and ends up getting involved in real espionage when one of his video game cartridges contains secret government files that are going to be smuggled out of America.
Writing this feels as ridiculous as it sounds to you guys, but for a 7 year old kid like I was, this was a great movie. Again, this is another 80s movie where kids are involved in adult spy missions and being semi-successful, but the family theme undertones are the connections that I made with this film. Even at 7 I knew that Davey wanted to spend more time with his dad. Imaginary friends can look however you want them to, and he chose his father. Touching.
To see Dabney Coleman as Jack Flack supporting young Davey with encouragement throughout the film was enjoyable and made an impression on me with his depth. I thought that he could only play smarmy and egocentric. This gentle supportive performance proved to me and many others that he did have a good guy or two in him.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Coleman as a villain too. He is a great actor, and is rarely over-the-top. His villains always have a gentle-venom to them that can be terrifying and seething.
This departure for him and the one in “Short Time” were enjoyable for me. It makes you appreciate what actors can do.
Henry Thomas for me is the greatest child actor ever. “E. T.” and this film had a lot to do with that. I always feel good when actors are able to continue with their craft throughout their life. It took Henry Thomas a while, but he persevered and has carved out a decent acting career as an adult.
At the end of the day, I enjoy a film where the thematic undertones come full circle. Davey learning that Jack Flack was and will always be there looking out for him was a pleasure to see.
Even if he wears wings instead of tack gear and a beret.
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