Thursday, August 28, 2014

The China Syndrome (1979)

Jack Lemmon Film Fest Movie #6

Synopsis: Ambitious TV news hacks descend on dangerous nuclear power plant like flies on an old banana. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “A modern nightmare nearly becomes reality in this timely, tension-filled story about an ‘incident’ at a nuclear power plant.” 

What Did I Learn?: If you work in a nuclear facility and stumble upon massive corruption that could lead to a meltdown, your best course of action is to drop a dime to the authorities and sing like a canary. It’s not such a hot idea to confront the guilty parties and threaten to do so. 

Really?: 1) So, Jack decides to whip out a revolver and take over the plant  in a completely spur-of-the-moment decision? Gee…. I dunno… that seems a little contrived.  2) See: “What Did I Learn?”

Rating: While the China Syndrome is very much a product of the conspiracy-minded 1970s, it still works, both as a slow-burning thriller and as a character-driven drama; Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas work well together, but Wilford Brimley nearly steals the movie right at the end when his character decides to speak truth to power. It's a moving and memorable moment. 8/10 stars.

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