38 user 18 critic

The Manhattan Project (1986)

PG-13 | | Sci-Fi, Thriller | 13 June 1986 (USA)
A teen and his girlfriend make an atomic bomb with plutonium stolen from a scientist dating his mother.



On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Government Aide
Government Aide
Paul Austin ...
Curt Dempster ...
Bran Ferren ...
Lab Assistant
Christopher Collet ...
Elizabeth Stephens
Jenny Anderman
Science Teacher
Abraham Unger ...
Roland (as Abe Unger)
Max (as Robert Leonard)
David Quinn ...


A teen and his girlfriend make an atomic bomb with plutonium stolen from a scientist dating his mother.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Paul Stevens' high school science project has gotten a little out of hand. He just built an atomic bomb. Now he's got 11 hours to make sure it doesn't work. See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 June 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deadly Game  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)


$3,900,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (video)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The science projects and kids in the background of the science fair scenes were actual NYC middle school students with real science projects which were submitted to the NYC borough-wide science fair. These scenes were filmed over a three-day period at the Penta Hotel in NYC on 33rd St. See more »


During the process of making the sphere of plutonium Paul doesn't use any type of protection (filter) from airborne plutonium particles. There is a high probability of death when plutonium is inhaled. As a minimum it results in radiation sickness. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. John Matthewson: Now, the beta synchrotron sends the electrons through this magnet which bends the course of them down to the reaction vessel. Stay away from that elbow joint. All right. Bran, you want to get that? Now, this is a tunable excimer laser. It's tuned to the exact resonance of the plutonium-239 that's in the reaction vessel down at that end. Now, I think we're all set. Hit it.
See more »


Referenced in Back to the Future: Making the Trilogy (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Can't suspend that much disbelief
18 August 2002 | by (San Diego, California) – See all my reviews

If the beauty of film is that it encourages us to briefly suspend our disbelief and enjoy experiencing a different world, The Manhattan Project simply demands too much suspension of disbelief to make this possible.

Almost every plot point in The Manhattan Project is an absolute impossibility in real life, even though the dramatic power of this film ostensibly derives from the notion that something remotely like this could really happen. From nuclear radiation triggering detectors without hurting people, to a single rent-a-cop defending an entire nuclear weapons lab, to one teenager doing in a month what took Oppenheimer and company years, to the U.S. military letting national security breaches walk away into the sunset, there is just no way to focus on the story when faced with so many intellectual insults.

On the bright side, the science in the movie is presented well and seems fairly accurate, so it does seem like the filmmakers at least tried to make something special out of an insufficient screenplay. The Manhattan Project is not a terrible movie, but it does suffer from too many inexcusable lapses to be called good. Just like the most realistic character in the movie, this film is a bomb.

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