The Core: A Delayed 20th Anniversary Viewing

Clockwise: Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Tcheky Karyo, Bruce Greenwood, and Hilary Swank in The Core. Courtesy of Paramount.

The Core may be among the worst disaster thrillers as far as realism is concerned but the the film’s cast keeps it entertaining.

I had hoped to watch the film in time for its 20th anniversary in March. Unfortunately, Paramount Home Entertainment did not make the 4K UHD release available for review. Had they done so, I’d have worked with a terrible depression to try my best to get a viewing in. As such, I finally got around to a rewatch on Monday night in the hours leading up to the WGA strike.

Basically, the gist of the film is that a group of scientists and a pair of NASA pilots must drill their way down to the planet’s core in order to restart it. Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank) make up the NASA pilots. Geologist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci), and Virgil designer/scientist Ed “Braz” Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo) make up the rest of the team. The government also brings in a hacker, Theodore Donald “Rat” Finch (DJ Qualls), to make sure that nobody learns of the mission.

The mission is not as easy as it looks. Anything that can go wrong does, starting with Iverson’s death. The planet’s core has a different density than expected means having to rethink their plan. Plan A immediately goes out the window. Plan B? Let’s not even think of that one. Plan C? Improvise and come up with a new plan! The main mission turns into setting off a series of nuclear blasts in order to do so. One blast alone is not going to cut it. Most of this team ends up sacrificing their lives in order to save the world. It’s a lofty price to pay but with better writing, everyone would be able to live. Zimsky goes out in quite the laughable way to say the least. At the end of the day, only Childs and Keyes survive with a little help from some whales.

This is a film where the US government committed what Bill Nye refers to as an “act of cow.” It’s DESTINI project–with Zimsky working as lead scientist–is what caused the core to stop in the first place. If U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Purcell (Richard Jenkins) had his way, the U.S. would use DESTINI to ty and restart it. What makes them think that they would do any better. Finch and Keyes work together and are able to cause same chaos on that end. At the same time, there are freak storms and UV rays causing tons of damage. Is this realistic at all? I don’t know. The film also joins a list a list of other fictional pieces that feature Unobtanium because they couldn’t come up with anything better.

Here’s the thing about science. The film needs to at least try to be accurate. Instead, its science becomes rather messy. It does not change the fact that The Core is hilariously bad but it’s still entertaining enough to keep watching from start to finish. Is this what would happen should the Earth find itself with a non-rotating core? I honestly don’t know. Again, it speaks to how terrible the science is in the film. But since the studio didn’t send out a 4K for review and Paramount+ does not include bonus features, I’m not about to dive into where they really went wrong. Math and science are not my strong suit. Say what you will about the science in the film but I’ve got to give co-writer John Rogers some credit for his fights in keeping some things out of this thriller. I mean, dinosaurs, really?!?

SCREENWRITERS: Cooper Layne and John Rogers
CAST: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, D. J. Qualls, Richard Jenkins, Tcheky Karyo, Bruce Greenwood, and Alfre Woodard

Paramount released The Core in theaters on March 28, 2003. Grade: 3/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.