In the year 2008, U.S. President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), who recently took office after the death of the former chief executive, is campaigning for re-election. After winning the Colorado state primary, Emerson finds himself stranded in a roadside diner after a freak snowstorm. While the president exchanges pleasantries with the diner’s staff and customers, a new bulletin appears on TV: Udei Hussein, son of the late Saddam Hussein, has invaded Kuwait and butchered several hundred U.S. peace-keeping troops. Outraged, the president announces that if Hussein and his forces do not withdraw and officially surrender, he will begin dropping nuclear weapons on Baghdad. However, Iraq responds that if they are attacked, 23 cities in the United States and allied nations will be immediately destroyed in a counterattack. Emerson, his advisors, and the others trapped in the diner with them debate long and loud about what to do, and what the potential consequences could be.
1999 – Certificate: Not Rated – French / American Film
8.5 out of 10
A few weeks ago I wrote about my work laptop having a few ‘issues’. Work-related stress, cruel and heartless management and a failure to ‘work smarter and not harder’, had reduced it to an untidy pile of nearly useless components unable to do the simplest things, other than make up excuses for not having done them. (Oh wait, that’s just me.) Over the past week or so, to coincide with moving our office, trying to sort out the old one and get the new one in a state to be used as anything more than a second-hand furniture shop, I’ve had ‘The Man From Dell’ visit no less than four times, in an attempt to fix my laptop’s problems. However, I’m now the proud owner of what looks like a new computer; although it’s been totally pulled to bits so many times and so many parts have been replaced, that I’m not sure it even recognises itself now. More importantly, it actually works. I really enjoyed downloaded the four million or so e-mails that have piled up for me over the past couple of weeks, many of which are increasingly angry ones from people demanding that I do this, that and the other by yesterday. I doubt they’ll care that moving office takes a bit of effort, my laptop’s gone mental, my mobile phone went into hiding and the new office looks like Engineering on the Enterprise after a particularly bad day dealing with Klingons. They’ll just think I’m a lazy, work-shy imbecile, who can’t be arsed to make an effort; trouble is, they’re probably right. In related news, ‘The Man From BT’ was also in today, to put in two basic phone lines. Quite why this took him (and a colleague) most of the day, I’m not sure. We’re in the centre of the town, there’re landlines and junction boxes everywhere. Unlike BT and myself, the President in this film manages to ‘get things done’, even though he’s stranded in a cafe with just a few phone lines and a TV, as he organises universal Armageddon faster than BT can get a telephone to work.
Despite all its plot holes and general dumbness, this is actually a really clever and tense political thriller. A number of its assumptions have since proved to be quite prophetic too. Its clever use of stock footage of American Presidents playing at “Team America: World Police” and TV coverage of the developing crisis, works very well. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was making a point about war being bad or necessary; or that American presidents have too much power or a responsibility to use that power. However, there is something very chilling about seeing someone ordering a nuclear attack on another country. It was also rather depressing to see how little value was placed by the Americans on the lives of its enemies and allies alike. (If it wasn’t for us, they’d still be riding around firing bows and arrows at one another.) I can’t really say much more as knowing about the plot would spoil things, but I’d certainly recommend watching it. It’ll give you lots to talk about afterwards too.
The soundtrack is good example of understated music making a big difference to the feel of the film. Good job.
Recommended for Special Agents, dictators and anyone caught in a snowstorm or who works in a cafe. Definitely not recommend for American Presidents.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The American President ordering a nuclear attack is about as badass as you can get. Shame it’s not a good type of badass. I wouldn’t like to piss him off though.