Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fail-Safe. B+

'Fail-Safe' is like 'Dr. Strangelove' without the satire. Both films criticize not only the Cold War, but also what man is able to build because it ends up causing too many problems. This is about as a dramatic piece of entertainment as you'll find. It mainly consists of a group of men in different room communicating with each other, debating what should be done about several American planes headed across the sea to bomb Moscow. This is of course a result of technological malfunction, as no such order was ever actually given. This is a difficult movie to really sit back and relax with. It's so intense and so terrifying that you can't help but remain tense until it's over. And the movie is structured by Sidney Lumet to seem as real-life as possible. He doesn't allow room for unnecessary drama or unrelated plot turns. It's all business from beginning to end. And speaking of Lumet, he's something else, isn't he? He's made so many movies, a good number of which are cinematic gems. Even in his eighties, he's still working in prime form (as exemplified by his most recent film, 2007's 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead') 'Fail-Safe' is one of his earlier pieces, yet also one of his finest. Again, 'Fail-Safe' is not a typical Hollywood thriller, despite the high-pleasure synopsis' you'll find on various DVDs and videos. This is a serious, adult movie that isn't meant to be taken lightly and like 'Dr. Strangelove,' it's message is profound.

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