Published on October 11th, 2010 | by Chris


Fail Safe (2000)

Review of: Fail Safe (2000)

Reviewed by:
On October 11, 2010
Last modified:October 5, 2012


If you really want to see this story, go find that '64 original. Or just read the book, even.

Fail Safe (2000)Ah the classics, such as 1964's Fail Safe, based on the Burdick novel of the same name....  And then somebody gets the bright idea to remake it.  Not just "reboot it", but remake it more-or-less verbatim.  That's what happened with 2000's Live TV experiment Fail Safe.

Now, the original film is a real gem.  (see the link above for the review of that, along with the plot of this one.)  There's no denying it.  A tense thriller chock-full of paranoia and despair from an era where it belonged....

The biggest problem with this, though, is that its, well, bland.  Everyone seems like they've rehearsed their lines 1000 times and the entire thing comes across as very mechanical.  VERY.  It also doesn't help matters that they tried to recreate the original shot-for-shot it seems.

BUT, as an experiment in live TV, I guess it was a success.  Back in 1964 there may still have been events such as this going on the air.  A bit late, maybe (I'm thinking more 50's-ish) but the sentiment is at least well received.

Not even an "ensemble" cast can pull the dullness out of the grey muck.  Clooney, Cheadle, Dreyfuss, Dennehy, Wyle, Cromwell, Keitel... the list is almost too long to repeat here.  Not sure what happened, really.  If they were shooting for such an exact recreation that they didn't want the actors to, well, act.... or if like I said above they rehearsed the thing so many times (to avoid a live TV snafu) they all got sick of it.....

What else is there to say, really.  If you really want to see this story, go find that '64 original.  Or just read the book, even.

Amazon (this version): Fail Safe (2000)
Amazon (1964 version): Fail-safe (Special Edition, 1964)
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0235376/

The trailer for this one....

And the original, you tell me.

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Fail Safe (DVD)George Clooney stars as a U.S. fighter pilot mistakenly commanded to start a nuclear war with Russia. Now he must be stopped--at any cost--to avert Armageddon in the chillingly realistic movie Fail Safe...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date:
  • Richard Dreyfuss
  • Noah Wyle
  • Brian Dennehy
  • Sam Elliott
  • James Cromwell


  • Oscar? winner George Clooney (Syriana, Ocean's Thirteen) and Emmy nominated Noah Wyle ("ER,""Librarian: Quest for the Spear") head an all-star cast in this tense and powerful Cold War thriller performed live on network TV (CBS). An electrical malfun


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Fail Safe (2000) Chris

Summary: If you really want to see this story, go find that '64 original. Or just read the book, even.


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

3 Responses to Fail Safe (2000)

  1. I agree. There are so few war movies being made these days, why would you waste time and money and acting talent to copy a classic movie? This was a ridiculous waste of time and effort. It reminds me of the word for word remake of “The Lion in Winter”. Please find a great war novel that has not been made into a movie yet.
    Speaking of “Fail Safe”, something about it has always bothered me. At the end, the President agrees to allow the Russians to counterbomb NYC. Wouldn’t the Russians have insisted on Washington as the logical equivalent of Moscow? Both capitals would be destroyed. Fair is fair. You could argue that the U.S. came out ahead because of the accidental destruction of the Russian capital because we had to give up our largest city, but not our government headquarters. Also, most of our leaders’ families would survive whereas most of the Russian leadership’s families would have died.

  2. Dennis A Pope says:

    MAJOR SPOILERS: Actually the president ordered NY by our OWN fighters which is quite different then allowing Russia to bomb NY. Also it is noted that there ARE some US leaders relatives in NY including the president’s wife which means he gave an order which absolutely would seal his wife’s fate.

  3. Chris says:

    You are, of course, correct in that…

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