Watch Massive Retaliation
- 1 hr 30 min
Massive Retaliation is a 1984 political drama set during the height of the Cold War. Written and directed by Thomas A. Cohen, the film tells the story of how the world is plunged into chaos when the United States and the Soviet Union engage in a deadly nuclear arms race. At the heart of the story are two families - the Phillips family of New York and the Petrova family of Moscow. The Phillips family is led by the hard-charging conservative politician Frank Phillips (Christopher Burton) and his wife Jean (Molly Cohen), a successful businesswoman. The Petrova family is led by the idealistic physicist Yuri Petrova (Doug Santana) and his wife Natasha (Olivia Russo).
The film begins with Frank Phillips traveling to Moscow to attend a nuclear disarmament summit between the US and the USSR. Upon his arrival, he is greeted by Yuri Petrova, who is tasked with showing him around the city. Despite their ideological differences, the two men slowly begin to bond over their shared love of science and technology.
Meanwhile, tensions between the US and the USSR continue to simmer. The US government, led by President Spencer (Rex Robbins) and his hawkish Defense Secretary Walker (Roger Hill), is pushing for a massive increase in military spending to match the USSR's new nuclear weapons program. In response, the Soviets double down on their own weapons development, setting the stage for a dangerous game of brinksmanship.
As the two sides come closer and closer to confrontation, the Phillips and Petrova families find themselves caught up in events beyond their control. Frank begins to question whether he can continue to support a nuclear arms race that could lead to the destruction of the planet. Yuri, too, grapples with the ethical implications of his work, wondering whether his research could be put to better use for the good of humanity.
The film's final act is a tense and emotional journey as the characters cope with the unthinkable consequences of nuclear war. Without giving anything away, suffice it to say that Massive Retaliation does not shy away from the horror and devastation that would inevitably accompany such a conflict.
What sets the film apart is its nuanced characterization of both sides of the ideological divide. While the American characters are clearly sympathetic, the film does not demonize the Soviet characters or their political system. Rather, Cohen presents a more complex view of the world, one in which the people on either side of the Iron Curtain are more similar than they might seem.
Overall, Massive Retaliation is a well-crafted and thought-provoking film that deserves a wider audience. While it may be of particular interest to fans of political dramas and historical fiction, its themes of nuclear disarmament, peace, and understanding are universal and timeless.
Massive Retaliation is a 1984 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.6.