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Richard Dreyfuss as President
Noah Wyle as Buck
Brian Dennehy as Gen. Bogan
Sam Elliott as Congressman Raskob
James Cromwell as Gordon Knapp
John Diehl as Col. Cascio
Hank Azaria as Prof. Groeteschele
Norman Lloyd as Defense Secretary Swenson
Bill Smitrovich as Gen. Stark
Don Cheadle as Lt. Jimmy Pierce
George Clooney as Col. Jack Grady
Harvey Keitel as Brig. Gen. Warren 'Blackie' Black
Doris Belack as Mrs. Johnson
Grant Heslov as Jimmy
Tommy Hinkley as SMSgt. Collins (First Sergeant)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 84 Minutes
The following is from the official DVD description:
"From a live groundbreaking television performance.
A computer malfunction triggers the transmission of nuclear-attack codes to a U.S. bomber squadron. The orders are irreversible, the primary target is Moscow - and the President, his advisors and military leaders race time to head off global catastrophe. George Clooney executive-produces and joins a precision team of actors to retell the Classic Cold War doomsday thriller based on the 1962 Eugene Burdick/Harvey Wheeler book and the memorable 1964 film. Recalling the adrenaline-rush days of early TV drama, 'Fail_Safe' was staged and telecast live on April 9, 2000 in black-and-white, establishing an immediate sense of history unfolding. Historic, too, is the cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Dennehy, Noah Wyle, Don Cheadle, Harvey Keitel, Hank Azaria and Sam Elliott."
"Fail_Safe" is not rated.
It's kind of interesting to see a Cold War drama in this post-9/11 world. It's almost nostalgic to think about being afraid of global thermonuclear war rather than Islamic terrorists. Nuclear annihilation has great sci-fi drama, but there's a kooky charm to insane ravings by radicals. Anyway, I digress.
"Fail_Safe" has a lot of things going for it. There's an absolutely fantastic cast filled with favorite big name stars, character actors, and wonderful supporting actors. It's also an interesting acting exercise as the cast performed the entire feature length film on live television. There's no safety net for them, so there's an extra bit of tension to the performances by these seasoned pros. The story is also an intriguing 'what if' scenario. They explore what might happen as the two world's superpowers stand on the brink of annihilation.
As much as "Fail_Safe" is a top notch production, the film itself is kind of boring. You could watch the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes and you would have understood the entire film. Everything in-between is either redundant or completely unnecessary to the story. There's also a plot twist towards the end that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I can't discuss it without revealing spoilers, but the final resolution was incredibly unlikely.
"Fail_Safe" should appeal to anyone that enjoys Cold War dramas or anyone that liked the original book. Fans of the main actors should also enjoy their unique live performances.
Unfortunately, there are no bonus features on this DVD. It would have been interesting to hear more about the challenges of doing a live broadcast.