Published on July 19th, 2012 | by Chris1
By Dawn’s Early Light (1990)
In a sort of "rehash" of a classic theme made famous early on in other cold war movies like Fail Safe etc., By Dawn's Early Light examines what might happen if the USSR were provoked by a rogue terrorist with a single nuclear weapon. Of course, the answer would be to start World War III, right? Right.
The President (Martin Landau) is then faced with having to deal with the Soviet President's decision to execute a partial retaliation, and whether or not he should do the same, do nothing, or escalate into all-out mutually-assured-destruction.
Well wouldn't you know it, its just not quite that simple. He's knocked out of the air, pretty much everyone else in succession is dead, and that leaves it up to the Secretary of the Interior (Darren McGavin) to act as President and completely get all hawkish with the help of Col. Fargo (Rip Torn) and start blowing up the joint.
Not to dwell too much on the politics, there is the second story of B-52 pilots Cassidy (Powers Boothe) and Moreau (Rebecca DeMornay) who have to deal with the moral issues of dropping nuclear weapons on civilian populations, as well as keep a quickly-falling-apart rookie crew in line.
And then there is the guy caught in the middle, code name "Alice" (James Earl Jones) on board the SAC control plane who must make a fateful decision and save the world (damn, spoiled it, didn't I.)
There was a lot of potential here for a balls-to-the-wall suspenseful and stressful thriller, but HBO just couldn't deliver the goods. It just felt way too obvious and mechanical. There was really never any point where we went, "hey! didn't see that coming!" or "wow, that was pretty dark…." A lot of pretty shoddy camera and editing work involved also. One zoom you could almost see the guy doing the camera slip as the shot "bumped"… doh!
And the code names and atmosphere. Everything and everyone has a bloody code name. Alice, Condor, Looking Glass, Trinity, E-4, Cottonmouth, blah blah blah. Nobody has a real fricking name except the guys on the B-52, and I didn't care enough about them to remember. Oh, and does everyplace have to be so bleeding dark and badly lit? From the SAC Omaha war room to the White House bunker, there's like 1 40 watt lightbulb over a desk. The conference room on board Air Force One was better lit. Done for mood or ? I don't know, but come on.
It was marginally interesting from a historical point of view though. Stacked up to other period cold-war pictures like "Red October" it fails miserably. But its an interesting view into an age we've all forgotten. 5/10, because it wasn't a complete waste of time, but I was hoping for a lot more.
Clip time, here's an extended look at this mediocrity.
By Dawn's Early Light
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By Dawn's Early Light (DVD)Nuclear war-- a nightmare that may become grim reality for the world in this riveting thriller. When a fanatical group opposed to friendly U.S./Soviet relations explodes a nuclear missile over a Russian city, it begins a chain reaction of accusations and actions that begin the groundwork for WWIII...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Brand: HBO HOME VIDEO
Manufacturer: HBO Studios
Original Release Date:
- James Earl Jones
- Rebecca De Mornay
- Powers Boothe
- Martin Landau
- Nuclear war-- a nightmare that may become grim reality for the world in this riveting thriller. When a fanatical group opposed to friendly U.S./Soviet relations explodes a nuclear missile over a Russian city, it begins a chain reaction of accusations and actions that begin the groundwork for WWIII. As the clock ticks toward total nuclear annihilation, the American presidentand the Soviet president
Summary: By Dawn's Early Light examines what might happen if the USSR were provoked by a rogue terrorist with a single nuclear weapon. Of course, the answer would be to start World War III, right?