Steve Daly
March 10, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Deterrence

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
101 minutes
performer
Timothy Hutton, Kevin Pollak, Sean Astin, Sheryl Lee Ralph
director
Rod Lurie
distributor
Paramount Classics
author
Rod Lurie
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a D

Remember the nuclear-strike countdown in ”Dr. Strangelove”? Picture that scenario transposed to a Colorado diner — and only there — and you’ll begin to grasp the desperately stagy inadequacy of the one-room political thriller ”Deterrence.”

In 2008, an appointee President (an unconvincing Kevin Pollak), who’s now facing a real election, gets stranded in a snowstorm during a campaign stop. The eatery evidently has no plow, but it’s got cable TV, and after seeing a news report about a surprise Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Commander-in-Chief decides he wants to nuke Iraq.

We get a lot of protracted shouting and posing as two advisers (Timothy Hutton and Sheryl Lee Ralph) try to argue him out of it, but the plot twists fall about as weightily as the fake snow, thanks to first-time feature writer-director Rod Lurie — a movie reviewer and journalist who should have been deterred from committing this credibility-free what-if exercise to celluloid.

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