The Core

The Core

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is Armageddon underground, with Josh (Aaron Eckhart), a scruffy university lecturer, in the Bruce Willis role and Beck (Hilary Swank), a scarily efficient astronaut, as the one who keeps her head whilst all around, etc.

As an old-fashioned disaster movie, with state-of-the-art effects and a script that floats, The Core definitely does the business. It's not important that the cast fits snugly into stereotypes; it's what they make of them that matters.

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Essentially an end-of-the-world scenario, Jon Amiel's moleish action adventure is a tad more complicated than "How do we stop that big fat space rock hitting Earth?" The science needs explaining, which is why Josh is there. He's good at that kind of stuff, because he's clever without being a show-off, like celeb physicist Dr Zimsky (Stanley Tucci, with hair), who talks rot, steals other people's ideas, writes gobbledegook and looks tidy on TV.

The electromagnetic field that controls the equilibrium of the planet has stopped spinning, which means that "in three months we're back in the stone age" and in six everybody's toast. Without getting bogged down in detail, someone has to bore through the earth's crust, beyond the lakes of molten lava, approximately 3000 miles down, to restart the thing. Who and how?

A team is assembled, Armageddon style, except these guys aren't muscle-bound coneheads, or Steve Buscemi in a tin suit. There's Josh, Beck and Zimsky, with Beck's NASA colleague (Bruce Greenwood) from her Shuttle days, an eccentric inventor (Delroy Lindo) who lives in the desert and Josh's boffin buddy from Paris (Tcheky Karyo). On the outside, as helper/hinderers, are an arrogant army general (Richard Jenkins) and a nerdy computer hacker (D J Qualls) with a wicked sense of fun.

The expedition in a long worm of a machine is full of what you need - danger. The impossibility of such an enterprise must be brushed aside. Only science buffs and i-dotters will say, "Hey! Wait a minute!" Don't listen.

What makes this work is Amiel's dedication to character construction. You learn to like these people, even love them. When some are lost, you care desperately. Even Tucci, going over the top in his role as the mock villain, can be forgiven. He's always a pleasure to have on board.

This looks expensive and feels like a friend. Saving civilisation takes courage one notch above bombing the hell out of Baghdad. Who cares if it's a carbon copy of so many other movies involving little known actors lost in space?

The Core has heart. And it's beating.

Reviewed on: 27 Mar 2003
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The Core packshot
Scientists and astronauts bore to the centre of the earth to repair faulty electro magnetic field.
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Jennie Kermode **

Director: Jon Amiel

Writer: Cooper Layne, John Rogers

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Tcheky Karyo, D J Qualls, Bruce Greenwood, Richard Jenkins, Alfre Woodard

Year: 2003

Runtime: 135 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/UK

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