See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Deterrence

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Like the recent television remake of Fail Safe, Deterrence feels like a Cold War relic even though it’s set in 2008.

Shot on a single set, and dependant on dialogue over action, Deterrence has the claustrophobic feel of a filmed play. This conscious artificiality is carefully calculated by writer-director Rod Lurie, who has a big point to make and doesn’t want it overshadowed by jingoistic Top Gun antics.

President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), a former vice president who was elevated when his popular predecessor died, is in the midst of a dog-eat-dog election campaign. Along with his press secretary (Timothy Hutton) and policy adviser (Sheryl Lee Ralph), a television cameraman and various Secret Service agents, Emerson is trapped in a small-town Colorado diner by a snowstorm.

Of course, something major happens: Saddam Hussein’s son leads another invasion of Kuwait, easily rolling over United Nations troops. With missiles readied for launch on Western allies, and negotiations crumbling, the nuclear card is placed on the table.

Deterrence unfolds as a morality play where the decisions made in this all-American microcosm will have global ramifications. Lurie knows how to create tension as this once-friendly atmosphere – where locals are thrilled by their proximity to power – becomes increasingly filled by the ego of a man determined to be taken seriously.

With everything else stripped away, the film becomes an actor’s showcase, particularly for Kevin Pollak. Could this intelligent, unimposing man, with his easygoing, eager-to-please manner, actually start a nuclear war? Pollak’s eerily familiar mix of strength and hubris makes that a viable question.

Rod Lurie’s position is decidedly anti-nuclear, yet he asserts that decades of intelligence gathering and millions of dollars invested makes for the very real possibility of another Hiroshima. After all, we’ve still got the technology and a very human hand on the detonator.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 25, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation