Newest Reviews
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
  Manhattan Project, The Generation Bomb
Year: 1986
Director: Marshall Brickman
Stars: John Lithgow, Christopher Collet, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Eikenberry, John Mahoney, Richard Jenkins, Sully Boyar, Timothy Carhart, Gregg Edelman, Abraham Unger, Robert Sean Leonard, David Quinn, Geoffrey Nauffts, Frank Ferrara, Jimmie Ray Weeks
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: John Mathewson (John Lithgow) is a scientist who has assisted in developing a high grade of plutonium destined for use in nuclear weapons, not that the American public have any idea about this, even though his lab is disguised as a medical research center situated near leafy New York suburbs - nobody outside of the government and the military have any idea of what is going on there. That is until John is seeing about accomodation in the area, and meets estate agent Elizabeth Stephens (Jill Eikenberry) who sets him up and also agrees to go out with him. Keen to impress her, John invites her budding boffin son Paul (Christopher Collet) for a guided tour of the lab...

Which would be his first mistake, and it's such a biggie that he spends the rest of the movie trying to live it down, never mind make up for it. The Manhattan Project received a mixed response back on its release mainly thanks to comparisons being made with the admittedly superior WarGames of then-recent vintage, and it has gone on to be seen as an example of the less realistic atomic bomb paranoia flicks of the eighties, of which there were plenty to choose from. But then again, there are those who viewed this as seriously underrated, and never given its proper due for the message to those who think mutually assured destruction was nothing to do with them.

In an intriguingly ambiguous setting up, teenage Paul is obviously a very bright kid, but he seeks to use his powers for, if not evil, then certainly misguided purposes. He thinks, after seeing this tour and working out what all the fancy lasers and whatnot are for, that the staff there and their bosses deserve a wake up call about the scandal of processing nuclear weapons material in the backyard of the public, not to mention the morality of making such incredibly devastating bombs in the first place. So in a sequence reminiscent of one of those heist movies which would be so prevalent in the following decade, Paul breaks in with the help of his aspiring journalist girlfriend Jenny (Cynthia Nixon).

Whereupon with master criminal precision he liberates a plastic bottle of plutonium and sets about making something of it in his mother's basement. Soon he has a bomb of his own, not thinking this through for all his cleverness, and believing that if he takes it to the national science fair he will be a shoo-in for the first prize as well as creating a publicity storm about the issues he feels relevant. But mostly making a fuss, for as we have seen in the early stages, just because he is one of the leads in a teen movie doesn't make him the hero, and the message of facing up to the responsibilities which accompany such destructive devices is never far away, perhaps rendering director Marshall Brickman in the role of bleeding heart.

But Brickman had proven his intelligence elsewhere in scripts for Woody Allen, and with his wry sense of humour well to the fore, even in the tense moments, casting teenagers as the inheritors of the atomic age problem was a canny decision. If Paul had been some loner, a crazed genius out to get revenge on society, it would be a lesser movie, but seeing as how it was the younger generation who adopted the troubles the older generation had established you could feel The Manhattan Project's champions were on to something when they looked past the implausibilities (this was a science fiction movie, after all) and took away the serious issues Brickman was bringing up. Late on in the story, as the homemade bomb is threatening millions, hardnosed military man John Mahoney accuses Mathewson of denying he is as much a part of potential mass murder on a global scale as those in the army or government, and it's as if a light goes on in the scientist's mind: "What was I thinking?" You might ponder that too if you allow the thoughts this provokes to run their course. Jaunty music by Philippe Sarde.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3043 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: