The China Syndrome

Released 1979


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Movie Summary

James Bridges
The China Syndrome is a 1979 thriller starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas in a story about the whistle-blowers of a nuclear power plant cover-up. Modern society has become dependent on nuclear power to keep our country running. As more power plants have been built to satisfy our energy needs, the risk we run by creating and housing radioactive materials increases as well. This gripping film tells the story of a TV reporter named Kimberly Wells (Fonda), a power plant supervisor named Jack Godell (Lemmon), and a new cameraman named Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) who expose the dangerous potential of one nuclear plant. Despite the overwhelming evidence that a disaster is imminent and the radioactive fallout could contaminate a devastatingly large area, convincing the plant managers to shut down is an impossible battle. A dangerous struggle between power and ethics ensues as Jack, Kimberly, and Richard try to save the local population from the nuclear hazard. The China Syndrome is an exciting thriller that was famously released days prior to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The movie is, above all, entertainment: well-acted, well-crafted, scary as hell.

  • 80

    Empire Ian Nathan

    Technology, as ever, is examined through a pessimistic prism, but the script is equipped with enough jargon and detail to expose the work and responsibility of the filmmakers.

  • 63

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Jay Scott

    Evil isn't a matter of banality in The China Syndrome; it's a barracuda in a three-piece suit. The film is thus weakened both politically and esthetically. The weakness does not st...

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