Countdown to Zero Movie Review
Review by Nathan Samdahl (B-)
Countdown to Zero, the documentary by filmmaker Lucy Walker, traces the history of the most destructive singular invention in human history, the nuclear bomb. The film also stresses the importance of working towards complete nuclear disarmament and the many ups and downs that have occurred en route to achieving this lofty goal.
Walker paints a pretty dreary picture of the nuclear situation including several stories involving simple lapses in communication that almost lead to nuclear global disasters. Countdown to Zero's most horrifying sequence actually shows the steps that occur when a nuclear bomb is detonated. Even the most hardened individuals couldn't find much upside to the use of such weapons.
The documentary's concept certainly drives the film forward as opposed to its style, which falls a few steps above a typical History Channel documentary (and since it will be distributed on TV on History Channel I guess that makes sense). But compared to a documentary that exudes style such as Man on Wire, Countdown to Zero did not engage me on nearly the same level.
The topic of nuclear disarmament is certainly one of the most relevant and important to explore. Countdown to Zero makes clear its message of Global Zero, which strives for a nuclear weapon-free world, and is a solidly constructed documentary, but I would probably not go out of my way to see this in the theater (and most of you won't need to since it should be coming to a History Channel near you shortly).
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.