I knew Wargames much better than I knew Seattle so when I watched it for the first time in years I felt really nostalgic for all the Seattle locations. It must have been a lot easier to shoot up there once upon a time; Running on Empty, Assassins, Sleepless in Seattle... when Von Trier came to shoot Dancer in the Dark he found the permitting process so onerous he stole every shot.
A few of the things that strike me:
1) This is a story about a high school kid who accidentally brings the world to the brink of a nuclear war, yet he's our hero. He is, after all, just a kid. I don't think you could make that movie nowadays because everybody knows teenage male hackers are a bunch of perverts who exist solely to break into your phone and post your beaver shots on 4chan. "Hackers" were such a neat thing until we actually experienced them as a culture; now they're persona non grata of the highest order.
2) At the height of the Cold War, tourists could venture into the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain for a lookie-loo. After September 11 they closed it to all but friends and family... even though actual operations of NORAD moved to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs. Even though their mission re-incorporated narco-trafficing in 1989. We were less worried about Soviet spies than we are about Jihadis. And that makes me sad.
3) The end of the cold war changed cautionary tales of war from "no one will win" to "we will invariably win." Independence Day ends with the ragtag remains of humanity enacting genocide against the alien invaders; War of the Worlds (the original - never watched the Tom Cruise one) ended with the humans huddled together awaiting the end only to have the Martians die of the sniffles. I think the "right makes might" ethos of Hollywood is really fucking dangerous.
4) Not sure how, not sure when, but someday I will have a WOPR wet bar in my basement. First I will need a basement.
5) Ally Sheedy has said she was dangerously anorexic for Wargames and almost went to the hospital a few times.
Paging Kiera Knightley et al...
Wargames came out in 1983. In 1987, Mathias Rust, then 18, rented a Cessna 172 out of Hamburg, flew it to Iceland, then across the Soviet air defense line to land it 100 yards from Red Square in Moscow. He had about 50 hours of flight time up to that point.
The basic premise of Wargames is that all our military might is a dangerous sham that could be taken down by a teenaged kid, much to our detriment. It actually happened in Russia - much like with September 11, nobody had the authority to shoot down a Cessna coming from Finland so Rust flew straight through the most heavily defended air frontier in the world unopposed. In 1983, we had John Badham with Wargames. In 2013 we had Catheryn Bigelow with Zero Dark Thirty. I'm a big fan of Bigelow - I think she does great work.
But I think we've long since forgotten how fallible we are, and that the larger and more secret the organization, the less credibility and skill they have. The much ballyhooed "launch codes" were all zeroes until 1977 - the Strategic Air Command didn't want any pencilneck civilian telling them when they could or couldn't start a nuclear war.