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The China Syndrome


1979's THE CHINA SYNDROME is a terrific thriller with a somewhat dated message on the dangers of nuclear power. It's a message that played very well in 1979 when it hit theatres moments after the accident at Three Mile Island.

Jane Fonda is Kimberly Wells, an attractive TV news reporter moving up the ladder on the back of well executed puff pieces on the local CA news.

She's hungry to tackle real news stories and stumbles onto one when doing a special on alternative energy sources at the local nuclear power plant.

While there with her renegade cameraman Richard (Michael Douglas), she witnesses a near catastrophe in the control room. From her viewpoint on a catwalk above, she watches plant supervisor Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon) scramble to within moments of exposing the nuclear core and rendering a large portion of California uninhabitable.

When the plant and the station begin to show signs of burying the story, Kimberly and Richard find themselves spiraling down a rabbit hole of danger and conspiracy.

The more the company says there is nothing to worry about the more Godell becomes concerned that there are serious safety issues just beneath the surface.

Lemmon, Fonda and Douglas are all excellent and well cast in their roles.

Watching Fonda face the late seventies sexism of her workplace is startling nearly 40 years later.

Director James Bridges (Urban Cowboy) delivers a compelling, exciting thriller that gets a suspenseful B.

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