Posted: 06/27/2004




by Hank Yuloff

FX releases this terrorist thriller.

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When swearing an oath to this country there is a phrase, “all enemies foreign and domestic.” This assumes that attacks can come from within as well as without. In the fx network original movie Meltdown, we see how potentially easy it would be to have an attack on the United States without a bomb being smuggled into our porous borders.

Meltdown is the story of a small group of terrorists who overcome the security of a nuclear power plant in California and threaten to blow it up. Set against the current fear of all things terrorist, it makes for a very convincing potential scenario.

And we are reminded that the United States trains all sorts of people in the art of war. This plot point becomes the most pivotal in the movie and for that reason, is worth watching Meltdown, despite some TV airways constrictions on visual gore.

Bruce Greenwood ( John F Kennedy in Thirteen Days) plays the lead role of Agent Tom Shae an FBI agent who has seen high level overseas duty investigating the USS Cole and in a typical Lethal Weapon kind of way, gets himself demoted to the Los Angeles field office where he is the first on scene to the takeover. Luckily he has lots of background and foreign language skills that happen to match the terrorist’s language. Luckily for us because it allows him to educate the audience on what these people are trying to do.

As TV faire, Meltdown was pretty well done. Of course, I had the benefit of seeing it without commercials so the story moved along quickly enough for me to be interested. I almost had a great review point that did not happen: At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to two California Highway Patrol officers and movies being what they are, you figure that at least one of them is going to play a pivotal role. When the terrorists swoop in, one of them is immediately killed but the other, Leslie Hope (Kiefer Sutherland’s wife Teri in 24) escapes so it looks like she is one of our heroines. But then SHE gets shot…. I began to write a plaudit for an original script point when wouldn’t you know it, we come back from the other side of a couple of commercial breaks and her bullet proof vest actually did save her… Darn it. I made me think: wouldn’t it be great to have some action adventure movie publicize a star, like Mel Gibson, only to have him killed off in the first reel? OK, you could resurrect him later in flashbacks but you get my drift.

Particularly horribly done are the video teleconferences between Shae and the nebulous Homeland Security Offices. There appears to be a three person panel deciding what orders to give Shae and they can be swayed on a whim. My guess is that this is a way of examining the poor state of affairs that can describe what sometimes happens in Washington. We see that the government is not always about keeping us safe, sometimes it is all about perception and avoiding panic.

Meltdown was worth the effort and viewing time. Because of its quality, you see it pop up on the TV guide again, so take a look.

Hank Yuloff is one of our guys in Los Angeles who asked for this movie because he thought it had to do with the History of Ice Cream.

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