Two college students (Heigl and Smith) build a nuclear device, which is stolen by a fellow student. When it ends up in the hands of a terrorist, they work with an FBI agent (Beach) in a race against time.
Two politically concerned students (Heigl and Smith) build a nuclear device to illustrate the need for a change in national priorities. But when they're betrayed by a fellow student and the bomb ends up in the hands of a terrorist, they have to work with the government in a race against time to prevent the destruction of the San Francisco Bay area. Written by
The film is a television thriller originally titled "Ground Zero" and scheduled to be broadcast in the fall of 2001. It was based on the bestselling James Mills novel The Seventh Power. The story centers around two students who build a nuclear device to illustrate the need for a change in national priorities; the device ends up in the hands of a terrorist following betrayal by a fellow student. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, however, the film was shelved when its plot was considered inappropriate. "Ground Zero" was deemed too direct of a reference to the name by which the World Trade Center site would become known and the film re-emerged in 2003 under the title "Critical Assembly". See more »
Not bad, though we've seen this sort of thing done better, exciting toward end
What an opening! We don't expect this sort of thing so soon in a movie. A couple is returning from Canada to the United States after (they say) a fishing trip. I won't say what happens, but it's not what you'd expect. It turns out they have part of the missing plutonium the FBI is searching for. The rest may be headed for San Francisco, we learn after a while. And San Francisco is where some college students are protesting nuclear weapons. One group of students comes up with the idea that the best way to protest is to build a bomb, to show how easily it can be done and scare the world into getting rid of nuclear weapons. At first they don't want to make the bomb work, but they finally realize that the only way to get the point across is to build a bomb that can actually be used. Then emails are sent out using a method similar to a virus. By the time the FBI figures out where the emails originated, it's too late. Someone has stolen the bomb and intends to use it. The second half is more exciting than the first as the FBI tries to figure out where the bomb is and (hopefully) defuse it.
There's nothing spectacular about this movie. I'm sure the same sort of thing has been done better somewhere else. It's not too violent, though some people die. But there is violence. The scenes where the FBI tries to figure out what is going on seem realistic enough. What the students do is pretty unbelievable, but I guess it is possible. They sure seem to know what they are doing. One of the better acting performances came from the actress playing the physics graduate student who wanted to make a difference in the world (something it would take years to do in a paying job). Also doing well was the actor playing the lead FBI agent. The two of them together made quite a team late in the movie.
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