The China Syndrome (1979)

James Bridges directs Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas in this conspiracy thriller about news reporter who uncovers dangerous corruption in the safety procedures of a nuclear power plant.

The China Syndrome should really fly. Attractive leads chasing down a story. Small scale peril as the powers that be try to muffle the damning footage, big scale peril as the plant threatens to overload. The satire of a Fail-Safe or a Network aimed for in its deadpan doomsaying. A sweaty, shattering chunk of committed acting from Jack Lemmon as the plant supervisor who slowly realises corners have been cut on his complex safety system. Yet it never grips. Side characters are often the ones tagging in for the action sequences, Bridges loses his nerve when everything reaches boiling point. Leaving us with a thriller that only ever threatens to be thrilling.


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