The China Syndrome
Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
This gripping 1979 drama about the dangers of nuclear power carried an extra jolt when a real-life accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania occurred just weeks after the film opened. Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) is a TV reporter trying to advance from fluff pieces to harder news. Wells and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas, who also produced) are doing a story on energy when they happen to witness a near-meltdown at a local nuclear plant, averted only by quick-thinking engineer Jack Godell (Jack Lemmon). While Wells and Adams fruitlessly attempt to get the story on… More

Available Online

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A tightly assembled didactic thriller."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"A terrific thriller that incidentally raises the most unsettling questions about how safe nuclear power plants really are."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"What we must quarrel with is the heartless, devious, and appallingly manipulative manner in which the authors of the film have drawn their good-guys-and-bad-guys battlelines ..."
‑ Richard T. Jameson, Parallax View
"It's an exciting and worthwhile old-fashioned thriller about the dangers of a nuclear power accident."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"A chillingly topical, stylishly directed thriller, with great performances from Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, and Michael Douglas"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"A moderately compelling thriller about the potential perils of nuclear energy, whose major fault is an overweening sense of its own self-importance."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The three stars are splendid, but maybe Miss Fonda is just a bit more than that. Her performance is not that of an actress in a star's role, but that of an actress creating a character that happens to be major within the film."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"The film is one of those rare modern thrillers that manages to combine fantastic acting and intelligent dialogue with real, heart-stopping suspense."
‑ , Film4
"File this one under 'Hasn't Aged Well.'"
‑ Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com
"Whistleblower saga that still packs a punch."
‑ James Plath, Reel.com
"All a bit too earnest, despite the seriousness of the subject, with Fonda setting her jaw and stepping into father's footsteps as Tinseltown's very own protector of humanity; but it's tightly scripted and directed, and genuinely tense in places."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Scary, absorbing thriller predicts risks of nuclear power."
‑ Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
"Not a comforting film, but an undeniably potent one."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Crackling drama about TV reporter (Jane Fonda) investigating a coverup at a faulty nuclear reactor, and pressing upon conflicted technician played by the first-rate Jack Lemmon to go public with the story."
‑ Jay Antani, Los Angeles Alternative
"The film does still competently pull together a string of solid performances by all concerned."
‑ JoBlo, JoBlo's Movie Emporium
More reviews for The China Syndrome on Rotten Tomatoes