The Manhattan Project (1986) Script

Now, the beta synchrotron sends the electrons through this magnet, which bends the course of them down to the reaction vessel.

Stay away from that elbow joint.

All right. Bran, you wanna get that?

Now, this is a tunable excimer laser.

It's tuned to the exact resonance of the plutonium-239 that's in that reaction vessel, down that end. Now, if we're all set, and hit it.

Now, watch your eyes. Roper!

This is where electrons bombard the stuff.

Lasers ionize it and send it off to the condenser.

Now it's a conductive element.

Now to the condenser.

Here it gets converted into its liquid metallic state.

Would you repeat that, please?

This is where it's converted into its liquid metallic state.

This all happened about 50 seconds ago.

It's the purest plutonium in the universe.

Pretty, isn't it?

99%? No.


Bob, what do you think?

A weapon this big with 20 times the punch of anything anybody's got?

Is he kidding? No, he did it, all right.

It's a brilliant achievement.

He'd get the Nobel if he could publish. Publish?

I said "if."

All right. I want a prototype facility fully operational, before Geneva if possible.

Everything goes through Energy in Washington, need-to-know, SCI clearance.

Set him up. Whatever he needs. Someplace quiet. Away from prying eyes.

And keep an eye on him.

Here we go.

Hi, Mom.

Paul, it's 4:30 in the morning.

What's the book?

I don't know. Some cheap novel.

Come on. I'll buy you a drink.

Be careful, it's hot.

What? What's the matter?

You're growing so fast.

Yeah, but that's no reason to have a nervous breakdown.

Come here.

We got to get you a Valium or some heroin or something.

Hurry up. He's coming.

What is that? Nitrogen triiodide.

What does it do? Unstable with respect to shock.

Well, what does that mean? Once it dries, if you touch it, it explodes.

You're crazy! You say that like it's a bad thing.

Whose drawer? Roland's.

Poor Roland. No, he'll love it. Builds character.

He's coming!

Hiya, Roland, could I borrow your English notes?

You've got to be kidding me.

But I lent you my math homework at least 10 times.

Sorry, Stephens, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

I gotta look out for number one.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Last time, we learned that plutonium is perfectly suited for the release of enormous amounts of energy due to its ability to fission under the action of slow neutrons.

Now, here we have the isotope plutonium-239.

And here, we have two very interesting inventions based on this.

Now, can anyone tell us the principle behind the implosion device?

Paul, can you enlighten us?

Yes, Roland.

Yes. Your implosion design simply uses a chemical high explosive to squeeze a subcritical piece of weapons-grade plutonium-239 until it's supercritical, thereby producing an atomic explosion.

Thank you, Roland. Thank you, Mr. Wilke.

He did it. Him! Paul Stephens is sick.

Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

Hi, Jen.

Hi, Paul. Did you lose something?

It's so dumb. I locked my car keys in the glove compartment because I always lose them. So, now I've lost the keys to the glove compartment.

Dumb, right?

You got a nail file in there?

Yeah, why? Let me see it.

What are you gonna do? Don't worry about it.

It's a new car. Trust me.

That was terrible, you know?

What? Roland.

Terrible? I thought it was very effective.

Not bad. Thank you.

Where did you learn that? CIA child recruitment program.

Listen, what you are doing Sunday night?

Nothing, why?

You wanna study? You mean together?

What about Mr. Perfect?

Who, Eric? Don't worry about Eric. He's just pretty.

What do you say? Sure.

My house. 115 North Highland near Thurston.

You gonna write it down?

8:00, all right? I'll have to babysit my little brother.

Babysitting. Does he bite?

No. I'm the one that bites.


Hey, Stephens, how about it?

Excuse me, Doctor? Yeah?

Hi, I'm Elizabeth Stephens.


Please have a seat. Thanks.

Could you spell this for me, Doctor? I can't seem to read your writing.


John Mathewson.

And you're interested in a one-bedroom sublet, furnished.

Yeah. Any special requirements?

It should be quiet and in an English-speaking country.

I think we can handle that.

Children? No.

No children. Pets?

No pets, no children, no flamenco dancing.

So it's just you and... Just me and my books.

And my memories, of course.

We have a very nice garden condominium.

On sublet.

New building. Good neighborhood. $500 a month, including utilities.

The particulars are inside. No, no. That's okay.

You don't like it? I love it. I'll take it.

You'll take it? Yeah.

Just like that.

Without looking at it? Well, you said it was nice, didn't you?


Okay. That was easy.

I'm very easy.

Well, so that's that.

If there's anything else I can do...

As a matter of fact, there is one thing. Yes?

Can I ask you a question?

Okay. The thing is, I've been here for six weeks down at the Carriage House Motel, and I don't know a soul in town, and you've been so nice.

I thought...

Perhaps some night you'll let me buy you dinner?

Is that crazy? I can't. No.

No? Really? It's sweet of you, but it's quite impossible.

No, no. Hey! I understand.

You have something.

Well, if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to my room and watch them rewrap the soap.

It's not that bad, is it? It's not wonderful.

Paul, come say hi.

Dr. Mathewson, this is my son, Paul.

Your son? I didn't realize you...

This is terrible. I feel like a perfect ass. Nobody's perfect.

I'm sorry. That was not called for.

As a matter of fact, my husband and I are separated.

I mean...

Hi, Paul. I'm John.

You a science buff?

Lasers. Fantastic things, lasers.

You ever seen one in the flesh?

No. Would you like to?


Well, the funny coincidence is I have access to the sexiest lasers in the entire free world.

If your mom says it's okay, you can come down to the lab and I will give you the grand tour. Laser heaven.

In return, I get to take you and your mom to dinner.

Sunday. Deal?

State your name and business.

Hi. My name is Paul Stephens, and I'm here to see Dr. Mathewson.

Go through the gate and up to the main building.

Would you put these on and see that gentleman over there, please?

Thank you.

The laser will fire in 12 minutes.

Please clear the active areas.

What are those things? Motion detectors.

Really? What do they do?

Anything that moves, they detect it.

Three yellow suits to the loading dock, please.

Jack, pick up on five.

Harry, seven-two, seven-two.

Dr. Mathewson.

So, what do you think?

Not bad. Not bad?

I just cut through a steel plate with a beam of light!

He says it's not bad.

A copper vapor laser, the most powerful that I've worked with.

Here's the main reaction chamber.

Reaction column.

Vacuum assembly.

Everything back there in the cage is the assay area.

Everything's run by the robot.

What did your old man do for a living?

He taught architecture at Cornell.

What's that? What?

That stuff. Lubricating oil for the robot.

No, no, no. That green stuff in those bottles.

That. That's americium-241.

It's one of the things we make here. Come on.

I'll show you the grounds.

Down by the lake. It's beautiful down there.

Where's your father now? Saudi Arabia.

Really? What happened?

I guess he didn't like being married anymore.

Some guys don't know when they are well off.

He's a brilliant architect, but he's just kind of a shit in his personal life.

So are you going to go out with Elizabeth?

Elizabeth? My mother.

Right, Elizabeth.

I don't know. That's pretty much up to her, I guess.

She's quite an unusual woman, your mother, don't you think?

Paul? Excuse me?

Your mother? Yeah, right.

Very unusual.

Everything okay? Yeah.

No more. My head is spinning.

It's good for the head to spin. Keeps it stable.

Paul, you haven't even touched yours.

No, thank you. I don't drink wine.

Why is that? It impairs my judgment.

What's the matter?

Air conditioning. Here, take my jacket.

I left my sweater in Dr. Mathewson's car. Would you be a sweetheart?

So when he was six years old, he started getting up at 2:00 every morning and staying up.

Here you go, Mom.

Is that better? Yes. Thanks, sweetheart.

Thank you for dinner. It was very stimulating.

What? Are you leaving? No dessert?

Sorry, I have a date.

Wait, wait. I didn't give you your present.

Present? Yeah. It's a brain-teaser.

You must get each of the balls in the corners.

A colleague of mine at MIT invented it.

He's a games theorist. He wants to market it.

He says anyone who can do it inside of two minutes...

I guess I'm going to have to come up with something harder.

Plus which, there are only two uses in the world for plutonium.

In weapons and in reactors, right?

So, if they make reactors, why say it's medical?

And if it's medical, why are they fooling around with plutonium?

It doesn't make any sense.

How do you know it's plutonium? Maybe it's something else.

It's not. It's little flakes of plutonium in a green gel. It's called a scintillant.

Why invite you inside? It's crazy.

So, he's crazy. Look what he does for a living.

He's hot for my mother. He figures I'm a dumb kid.

He's hot for your mother? Really? Got a knife or screwdriver?

Last drawer. Plus which, he's got all these security clearances. I don't know what they are.

Los Alamos, Livermore Labs, Oak Ridge.

Do you know what they make at Oak Ridge? What?

Nuclear warheads.

So, what are you saying? I'm saying he lied, okay?

At the very least, he invites me out there, and then he lies like I'm some kind of a wimp.

I think you are overreacting. To what?

I don't know. Oedipal jealousy maybe.

Oedipal jealousy? What's that? Psychology class?

Does this look like Oedipal jealousy?

What is that? What does it look like?

A five-leaf clover. Where did you find it? Growing outside that lab.

You know the odds on that kind of mutation happening naturally, without chemicals or radiation or something?

What? There are none.

I looked it up. It's like a billion-to-one. It never happens.

Maybe you're just very lucky.

Oh, my God. Who knows about this?

Just us. We should do something.


I don't know. Tell somebody.

The newspaper, my father! I mean, you can't just waltz into town and set up a bomb factory next to people's houses.

It's not a factory. It's more like a laboratory.

What's the difference? It's nuclear, right? You have to have hearings.

You have to let the community know about it. There are laws.

It's a government lab. They're not going to let anybody in there to look around.

They let you in. Fluke.

The guy was horny, so he took a chance.

So we do nothing? Is that it? What do you suggest we do?

March down Washington? My parents met at a march on Washington.

Really? Very '60s. Were you born at a Stones concert?

This isn't funny. Do you know what this is like?

It's like when you read about Anne Frank or something and you say to yourself, "Jesus. Why didn't they do something?

"The whole world was collapsing. They just sat around, life as usual.

"'Maybe it'll go away" ' But it never goes away. It only gets worse.

And nobody thinks about the future. What's the matter?

Who is Anne Frank? A girl in my English class, all right?

What are you looking at?

The storm. There's a storm coming. So?

The lab. They've got a security system there.

TV cameras, motion detectors, all kinds of stuff, only the thing is, it's all electric.


Lightning. Lightning. Don't you get it? No.

We can get in there.

Gort? But he's a robot. Without you, what could he do?

There's no limit to what he could do.

He could destroy the Earth.

If anything should happen to me, you must go to Gort.

You must say these words...

Please repeat this.

That's very bad for you.

Lots of stuff is bad for you.

Would you come here for a minute?

Hello! We're home. Jen?

Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.

Hi. It's gonna come down. Hello, sweetheart.

Hi. This is Paul Stephens from my science class.

Hello, Paul. Very pleased to meet you both.

Barnaby asleep?

Hey, hey, hey, hey. Chocolate-chocolate chip. What do you say?

I was just gonna drive Paul home, actually.

Okay, okay. Rain check then. Sorry.

Drive carefully. They're predicting some flooding.

Bye! Bye-bye.

There it is. German car, right? Figures.

Incredible. What?

Dr. Strangelove. He's in there hitting on my mother and watching my tapes.

Paul? What?

What if there's more than one guard?

No, the whole place is set up so it can be watched by one person.

Look, trust me, it's brilliant.

Besides, what can they do to us, anyway?

We're kids. It's a prank, right?

Hello? Anybody home?

State your name and business, please.

Where are you? You're on a remote intercom, ma'am.

What seems to be the problem?

This isn't Baker North, is if?

No, this is Medatomics Company.

Where's Baker North? I've been driving around for an hour.

Campus is on the other side of town, ma'am.

What's wrong?

I don't know. I'm supposed to meet my sister.

And I think there's something wrong with the car.


I'm a little scared.

Okay, come on through.

Tell me when.

Okay, get ready.


Thank you so much.

Your left front tire's flatter than a pancake.

No. Really? Take it easy. We'll get you fixed up.

Some night, huh? You got a spare?

A spare what?

A spare tire.

Yes, Information, you got a number for emergency road service?

Yeah, I'll hold.

Excuse me, call you back.

Hello, Central Office?

Charlie! Ben Bozman over at Medatomics.

Is it raining down there? Well, it is here.

Electric storm. It's fritzing up the whole system.

What? No.

Radiation checkpoints, okay.

Look, what can I tell you?

There's thunder and lightning. I keep getting these brownouts.


Of course I did! But they're all just flipping over.

You know these damn things. Every time you get a power surge, they go crazy.


A and B corridor just both went at once, if you can believe that.

I'm gonna do an onsite check and wait till the storm passes to reset. Okay?

Hate to go in there, Charlie.

They got stuff in there that zaps your gonads right off.

Hi. Hi.

What seems to be the trouble?

This jack isn't going to work. This jack is Mickey Mouse.

Hey, Ben. Hi, Terry.

Looks like rain. What do you think?

What's the matter? Damn storm fritzed up the whole system.

Did you call it in? Did I call it in?

Tell you the truth, I'd rather have one good dog than all that fancy equipment.

Why don't you give me a hand?

Where's the lug nuts? The what?

The things that hold the wheel on.

What do they look like?

Well? Oh, my God!

You were brilliant. All that crying with the guard.

Thanks. Can we get out of here now?


That was some sweetie, huh?

Come on, now. You're a married man.

Hey, a man can still have a little snack between meals, can't he?

Good-bye, sweetheart.

All right. First thing tomorrow, we take it to Dr. Nicci.

Who? Bob Nicci, a friend of my father's in the Chemistry Department at Cornell.

He'll verify what it is. I told you what it is.

Yeah, but I need a second source for my article.

Like Woodward and Bernstein.

Who's that?

Article, huh? Yeah, why?

I have another thought.

Paul, that's very sick.

I thought you wanted proof. That's proof.

But we have the stuff. Isn't that enough? Enough for what?

An article, an exposé in Rolling Stone.

I bet they'd publish it... Rolling Stone, come on!

Who's gonna care about a couple of kids who stole some stuff from a lab somewhere?

You want a story?

Write one about a kid who builds an atomic bomb!

You realize what you're saying? Yes.

You are weird. I'm weird? I didn't make that stuff.

No. It's too dangerous. Isn't it? No.

It's just a piece of equipment, like a toaster or a clock.

A bunch of parts that have to be put together.

So you just never put them together.

Look, people used to be afraid of cars because they didn't understand them.

Cars don't kill people.

Cars have killed more people than all the atomic bombs that were ever made.

That's not a logical argument. I'm not talking about logic.

I'm talking about the first privately built nuclear device in the history of the world.


Thank you for a very interesting evening.

Science fair, really? 45th Annual Science something.

You get to go to New York.

That's the same one that Roland's entering?

"Retinal deprivation and auditory enhancement in the common Cricetus."


I'm gonna raise a generation of hamsters in the dark and see if it improves their hearing.

That's kind of a weird experiment.

No. The field's wide open. I think I got a chance to win.

Well, then go for it.

Great to see someone turn over a new leaf.

Hi. Hi, Paul.

C-4. High explosives.

Very stable. It's fantastic stuff.

Don't be around when it goes off, okay?

Say, Paulie, what're you gonna do with this stuff? No, don't tell me.

$60. So, you been down to the garage much?

A little. How's the army?

It's a living. Take care, genius. Don't blow yourself up.

Dr. Wilson, got a minute?

This is Lot 13.

It's completely flat.

Did you recheck it? Yeah, three times.

Run a full-spec analysis. And keep this between us, okay?


Water, citric acid, sodium laureth sulfate, hydrolyzed animal protein, glycerin, U.S. FDA coloring number five.

What the hell is it?

It's shampoo. Shampoo?

Yeah, we think either one of the generic local brands or maybe something called "Alberto's VO5."

"Plus glitter." Glitter?

Yeah. Shredded aluminum foil like they use on a greeting card.

Thank you, Howard.

Somebody has a pretty weird sense of humor.

John, the time-key record has you in the building four weeks ago, Sunday night at 11:08 p.m., out at 11:49. No. This is a mistake.

You weren't here? No.

Somebody was with your card. That's impossible!

Look, Miles, it's a computer. They're not infallible.

Wait a minute.

Wasn't that the night of that big electrical storm?

I don't know. So what?

Oh, my God. What?

Well, here's your answer.

There was a power dropout and you had some garbage in the system.

It says right here, "Mathewson, 11:08 p.m." Yeah, I know.

I know, but do me a favor. Just check it out. Will you?

I mean, you know these guys. It's like cabin fever.

It happens all the time. I'm sure it'll turn up again.

"Cabin fever"? Yeah, I mean, when I was at Livermore, there were two guys who kept mice...

It's a significant amount. I have to report it.

Come on. They'll be all over us!

Look, I'm on a crash program here.

You wanna bring everything to a dead stop just because you got a little glitch? I'm sorry, John.

I don't make the rules!


Hi. Hi!

Listen, can I talk to Paul?

Paul's away until tomorrow night. Where?

New York. He has a project in the science fair. He didn't tell you?

No. What kind of project?

Something at school. Guinea pigs. No, hamsters. Why? What's up?

It's nothing. I just had some tickets to the ballgame.

Oh, gosh!


They need me on the floor.

Listen. What hotel is he at?

The New York Penta.

Penta, great. I'll give him a ring, okay?


Great, well. Listen, I'd better go, bye-bye.


You're saying you never actually went inside and saw what he was doing?

No. Why not?

He never asked me.

What's the problem? Was he sexually abusing the hamsters or something?

You're in section 96. That's in the balcony.

The judges are circulating now, and the final eliminations start at 3:00.

Do you have accommodations? I'm a guest in the hotel.

What is that? Key to the room.

Very scientific.

Hey, Roland, what do you say?

Stephens, keep away. Just keep away from me.

Good luck, Roland. Yeah, sure.

Keep in touch.

Effectively, what my project deals with is Halley's Comet, and tracking Halley's Comet for the duration it'll be here.

Halley's Comet will be most visible in the southern hemisphere.

What are you doing after the fair?

Tonight? Yeah, tonight.

Electrodes discharge which makes impact with the atom.

What number are we? Ninety-six.

There we are.

Wow, look at her.

Okay, so, we set it up and right before the elimination, we go downstairs to the car, we bring it up here, we unveil it, we win first prize, we get to go on television.

Am I leaving anything out? Just the part where we get shot for treason.

I'd like to try Italian. You want Italian?

Yeah, yeah. It's great.

Maybe we could go tonight? Okay, sure.

It's downtown.

Hi. Hi.

Where's your badge? You gotta have a badge.


Jeffrey. Hi. Hi.

What is that?

Nothing special. Just some microwaves.

I invented a way of using insects as a dietary supplement for humans.

Beetles, ants, mosquitoes.

You grind them up.

Low cholesterol and... Shut up, Eccles. That's disgusting.

My project is quite fascinating.

I took six common toads and froze them in liquid nitrogen for six months.

Why? Wouldn't you like to know!

My project is a study of social behavior in elevators.

How people react under pressure.

Her eyes moved away! Don't you like me? She doesn't like me!

You'll have to excuse him. He's got a hormone imbalance.

What's your project? Nothing. Just some hamsters.

He's lying. He blinked. They're all afraid of the competition.

What's the difference? It's not if you win, it's how you play the game, right?

No. It's if you win.

Dr. Mathewson, Lieutenant Colonel Conroy, Defense Nuclear Agency.

Hi, how are you? I've been better.

So, somebody took your magic beans and built himself a firecracker.

Is that it? That's it.

How big a bang are we talking about?

Fifty kilotons, give or take.

Doctor, unless I'm mistaken, 50 kilotons could just about evaporate a small city.

That's right. Good Christ!

And the kid put this thing together?

Yeah, kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

Any idea who he's working with?

I don't think he's working with anybody. I think he did it by himself.

What for? I don't know.

Maybe to see if he could do it. Crazy!

It's a crazy world.

Okay, how's this?

"Paul Stephens, a high school student from Ithaca, New York, "unveiled a homemade atomic bomb at the 45th Annual Science Fair today, "thereby becoming the first private citizen to join the nuclear club, "an exclusive group whose other members include the United States, "the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and China."

If I'm in the nuclear club, do I get a jacket?

You get anything you want.

Jenny. What?

I never thought I'd say this to anybody, but I've gotta go get the atomic bomb out of the car.

Oh, yeah?

Hi, Dr. Mathewson.

Is this him? Paul, what do you think you're doing?

Well, I thought we might start with some kissing and then move into the fancy stuff. Cute, real cute.

Normal background radiation. I don't think it's here.

Wow, what is that?

Neutron detector. Really? Who makes those?

Don't try my patience, boy! Come on, Paul.

Get the stuff near the typewriter. What's that over there?

Excuse me, this is a private room. Who are you?

My name is Jennifer Anderman. My father's a lawyer.

Good. You're gonna need him.

You can't come in here without a warrant.

It's unconstitutional. Yeah, what is this, Russia?

You have exactly 10 seconds to come up with that damn thing.

I demand to make a phone call.

They can't do this, Paul. It's illegal search and seizure.

Would you please escort this young lady outside?

Don't you touch me! I want to know the charges!

Yeah! The charges? Okay.

How about theft of government property, transportation of stolen goods, reckless endangerment, violation of the Nuclear Regulatory Act and conspiracy to commit espionage.

Is that good enough for starters?

You're in a pack of trouble, son! You're not as smart as you think!

Look, Colonel, we're not going to accomplish anything like this.

When I want your expert advice, Doctor, I'll ask for it.

We demand to see a lawyer. You'll see a lawyer when I say so!

Listen, I gave you an order. This isn't a goddamn debate!

If you'll just please... Get your hands off me! No!

Get your hands off me! Okay, okay.

I'm making a phone call! Hey, don't you touch me!

Everybody, quiet!

Let's all just get a little grip.

Now, we did kind of burst in here.

Look, Colonel, what do you say me and Paul, we take a little walk?

Just the two of us.

I'm sure we can work this whole thing out. What do you say, Paul?


You have five minutes. Thanks.

Kind of upset in there, huh? I don't know why.

It's just some lubricating oil for the robot. What do you want us to do, put up a neon sign saying, "Secret Weapons Laboratory"?

I wish the world were a simpler place, Paul, but it's not.

Don't worry about it. They can't do anything to me.

Why not? I'm underage.

That's really brilliant. What do you think this is, the school play?

They don't care how old you are, or how cute. They're gorillas.

They can hurt you. Don't you get it?

If you try to tough it out with them, they'll lock you in a room somewhere and throw away the room!

It's really that important to you, huh?

It's not just me, Paul.

To everybody.

Now, what do you say?


That's better. Where is it? No, no. Not now.

What do you mean, "Not now"? When?

After the fair. Come on, Paul.

But it's gotta be judged. I'm gonna win first prize.

You're joking.

No. Did you see the junk they got down there?

Paul, forget the science fair.

It's over, okay? No more science fair.

Look, this is top-secret stuff. Nobody sees this.

Not ever. You could start a war.

Stop screwing around before it's too late.

Paul, for God's sake.

It was here. I swear.

Jenny must have taken it.

The girl hasn't been out of our sight.

Then somebody must have stolen it. Jesus.

All right, son. Would you come with us now, please?

Just a minute. We'll take it from here.

He's telling the truth!

Okay, fine. He has nothing to worry about.

It was in a box, a toolbox!

My dad gave it to me right before he left.

We really have to know where it is.

I've already told you, I don't know.

Look, guys. I've got to go now.

Come on, guys. What is that?

Just to relax you and help you remember.

But I already told you. I put it in the trunk. I swear.

But it wasn't in the trunk, was it?

Just relax.

Okay! Okay!


You want the truth. That would be nice.

The truth is you guys are a bunch of assholes. When I get out...

You're very hostile, Paul. Just hold him, I can do it through his shirt.

What the hell?

Hey, you.

Is that thing really a nuclear device?

Far out.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?

Your attention, please, ladies and gentleman. It gives me great pleasure...

Night vision. Army surplus.

The lights are on. What?

You took it? How? Simple.

Hotel computer. Got your girlfriend's name, Jenny Anderman.

Accessed the Department of Motor Vehicles for the make and license on the car.

Paul, what's wrong?

They gave him an injection. Probably sodium amytal.

Do you have a bitter taste in your mouth?

Just keep him moving. He'll be okay.

Have you got enough money? What for?

To get away. This place is crawling with Feds.

I have a credit card.

No, cash. Come on, money, money!

You owe me $80. What's wrong?

You guys are beautiful guys.

Send me a letter. Why are you doing this?

Because life is more than freezing toads.

I got a taxi! The coast is clear, come on.

Come on.

Hi, folks, where to today?


Funny kid.

Ithaca? Plan.

I bet you can't guess what's in this box.

A human head? Wrong.

An atomic bomb. Do you want to see?

Not really.

Driver, if you only had $87 and you had to get to Ithaca, what would you do?

Come on.

Come on.


You saved us.



I love you, Jenny.

I want to be your wife.

Excuse me, can I help you?

Mrs. Elizabeth Stephens? Yes.

Lieutenant Colonel Conroy, U.S. Army Delta Force.

These men are with the Nuclear Emergency Search Team, a duly authorized government agency.

I'm taking over these premises as a temporary crisis center.

Nuclear Emergency, what? What's happening?

It's Paul. Something happened. Paul?

He's all right, I think.

"Paul Jacob Stephens. Born Ithaca, New York, February 14th, 1970.

"Mother, Elizabeth Adams Stephens, admitted maternity ward 6:20 p.m.

"Given 25 milligrams Demerol."

Good work. That'll be real useful.

We have a recent photograph of your family.

You and your husband were separated six months ago? Is that right?

Yes, would you mind not bending the picture?

Has your son had nightmares, anxiety or spells of depression?

You mean, is he normal?

Does he eat an excessive amount of sweets?


He got seven new cavities this year and only one the prior year.

Hypoglycemic mood swings, paranoia.

Does he feel that people don't like him?

That he's special? Or different?

Is he unhappy with the present political system?

Seven cavities? Are you sure?

State and federal authorities are looking for him and a female companion in connection with what appears to be a nuclear burglary case.

Official sources say that what seemed to be an innocent prank may turn out to compromise the American defense posture with overtones of espionage and international terrorism.

Barbara Collins has more in New York.

Stephens? Very disturbed person. Definitely the criminal type.

Paul. What?

Let's just give it back. Not yet. Tomorrow.

What're you going to do? Get you your article.

I don't know. It's getting pretty weird.

Don't give up now. Now when we got them.

We got them? Sure.

Come on, if it was easy, it'd be easy.

What about nobody doing anything? Remember?

What about the future? What about all that?

If we get killed, we have no future.

Of course we will. We always have a future.



Come on, let's get some sleep.

It'd be easier if you accepted that he wasn't an innocent victim in all this.

Yes, I know, he's the criminal. That makes it all so simple.

He did do some things that are against the law.

Maybe there's a higher law. What?

A higher law.

What're you saying? He did it for ethics? For reasons of conscience?

Who do you think he is, Galileo? He's a kid.

Kids don't have reasons. They just do things.

What do you know about children? I used to be one.

You don't know him. But I do.

He's got a gift and he wants to use it, that's all.

It's as natural as breathing.

Don't make him into some kind of an activist.


Who are these people? They are in my house.

What gives them the right? They know about everything.

They know about his teeth!

Look. It's 6.00 a.m. You're exhausted.

Why don't you do something, for God's sake?

What do you suggest? I don't know.

Blow them up. That's your field, isn't it?

He's a very resourceful kid. He's going to be okay.

I hope so. Because if anything happens to him, anything...

If one hair on his head is harmed, I promise you, I'm going to find all of you people and I'm going to make your lives absolutely miserable.

Hello. Who? Yes, I'll accept. Hello, Paul.

Hi, Mom, don't get crazy.

Paul, what's going on? They're saying all kinds of things.

Paul, did you build an atomic bomb?

Only a little one. Oh, my God!

Look, I'm okay. I don't have much time. I need to get a message to John.

If he calls. I'm here, Paul.

What? It's me. It's John.

You're there in the house? Yeah.

They're all here, Paul. Who all?

Lots of government men. The army. It's like an invasion.

Jesus, are you okay? Yes.

Are you going to give them the bomb?

Yes, but I want something in return.

I want a statement.

What kind of a statement? From you.

Signed by you about the lab.

What it is, where it is, what happens inside, everything.

What for? I just want it.

I can't do that. I've signed a security clearance. I'll go to jail.

You'll go to jail.

Look, that's the deal. The gadget for the statement.

Now, come on, I don't have much time.

Okay, what do I do, type something up?

That'll do for starters. Starters?

Just meet me at the lab in one hour. Main gate.

Why the lab? Because that's what I want.

And make sure that we can get inside. I want photographs, too.

Photographs? Come on, Paul! Yeah, lots of photographs.

Tell your pals, no funny stuff.

I'm very tense. There's no telling what I might do.

Paul. Take it easy. You're fine.

No, I'm a terrorist. Haven't you been watching television?

Paul, what are you talking about?

Paul. Paul.

Look, he trusts me. Let me do it.

I'll get it back. That's what we want.

How do we know this thing won't be armed?

That's right. He used the phrase, "I'm a terrorist." Here.

"No, I'm a terrorist. Haven't you been watching television?"

You people really live in your own world, don't you?

Well, we don't have the luxury of living in yours.

Are you sure you want to do this?


Look, it'll take me about five minutes to make it to the main gate.

You know what to do? Drive to the bait shop and make a call.

You got change? Yeah. I'll do it. Don't worry.

What else? Don't forget to focus.

Piece of cake.

This is Unit 1. The package has arrived, and it's hot.

Hi. Hi.

Is that it?

What is that, a cat box?

You got the statement?

Could you open it and hand it to me, please?

What's DOE?

Department of Energy.

They're the guys who... Yeah.


Let's go.

You really want to go inside the building? Yeah.

Paul, it's dangerous.

That's what makes it so exciting.

Of course.

So, Paul.

Why the big push for publicity?

Well, I was thinking, this is such a neat place. People ought to know about it.

What? No, really.

They got lots of cool equipment, robots, plutonium.

Why keep it a secret? They should have tours, like Disneyland.

Paul, you may be having fun right now...

I'm not having any fun!

I'm scared out of my mind. But I don't have any choice.

Of course you do. Just give me the box. Yeah. Great.

Why not?

Are you kidding? You think they're going to let me go home, knowing what I know about this place?

Jesus. You're more naive than I thought.

So, what do you think they are going to do?

I think they're going to try and kill me.


That's what I'd do if I was them.

That's purely hypothetical. No, it's perfectly logical.

I'm the leak, so plug the leak.

What are you going to do? Don't worry. I'm working on it.

Hello. Max, thank God.

Jenny. Yeah.

Jesus! What is going on? You guys have been on the news.

And someone said there's a helicopter at Paul's house!

Listen, Max, you got to do two things for us, okay?

It's a matter of life and death.

Yeah, sure. Whose? Everybody's.

First, call my parents, and then call two people.

I don't care who. Have them call two people.

And call the newspaper and the TV station. Are you listening?

Yeah, go ahead.

Okay, there's a place called Medatomics on Route 81.

This is Position 2. They're approaching the detector.

Okay, Position 2. We copy.

He's got it all right.

There's the core, explosive package, electronics, tamper, batteries.

Nice design, actually.

Is it armed? No.

You're certain?

It's all in sections.


We know it's not armed, Paul.

So, why don't you just put it down and walk away?

Walk away?

That's right. I am going to count to three.

Hey, let me talk to him. Doctor, stay out of this.

Let me talk to Conroy on that thing.

This wasn't part of the deal. One, two...

Don't hit the box! Jesus.

He's got plutonium in that, for God's sake. Shit!


Keep your hands on the wall, Doctor.

You breathe funny and I'll blow your fucking brains out.

Oh, Jesus.


He's really putting it together.

Give me a status report.

Two, three and four, what you got?

There's no way I can get him without hitting the green stuff or going through the Plexi.

Me neither.

Same here.

Oh, boy.

Okay, here's the deal.

We have an irrational child down there with an armed device.

He seems to trust you, so you get down there.

And do what?

Disarm him and get him to take it apart. And if he won't?

Then just separate him from it. We'll do the rest.

I can't do that. Why not?

Because I'm not a...

Killer? Is that the word you're groping for, Doctor?

What the bloody hell do you think you've been working on all these years?

What do you think all this is for?

Your own personal amusement?

To stimulate you intellectually?

You are what you are, Doctor, a son of a bitch, like the rest of us.

Now for God's sake, take some responsibility and do what has to be done.

Hello, again.

Do you mind if I sit down?

Two minutes. That's cutting it close, isn't it?

What is that? A car key?

The reflector? Salad bowls.

Salad bowls?

Why not?

What did you use for the firing circuits?

Photo strobes.

Photo strobes.

It's very pretty.


What do you say we take it apart before everybody goes crazy?

No, I'm sorry. I can't do that right now.

This isn't accomplishing anything.

Sure it is. What?

Deterrence. Deterrence?

You know, when each side thinks the other will blow everybody up.

It's called, "Mutually assured destruction."

Yeah, I know what it's called.

It's working, isn't it?

How do you mean?

I'm still alive, aren't I?

Don't talk like that.

The thing is, I've been thinking about it.

I don't think I'm crazy enough to actually turn the key.


That's the problem with deterrence, isn't it?

So I guess I blew it.

What do you mean?

I'm not getting out of here.

Let me see it.

Paul, give it to me.

Come on.

Give it to me.

Hold it, gentlemen.

Fellow sons of bitches.

We are what we are. Right?

Here's my responsible act.

I'm taking him out of here.

Since you all like scenarios so much, I've got one for you.

It's a game of chance.

I bet you that I can turn this key and blow us all to hell, even after you shoot me!

And you'll have to shoot me, okay?

Everybody's problems solved in one millionth of a second.


Who wants to play?

Red team, I do not want them off the premises with that gadget. Do you copy?

Please, not in the building.

One stray bullet and we've got a containment breach.

And that can mean... All right!

All right, listen.

Yeah, copy, Command. No problem.

Give me a clear shot and I'll turn him off like a switch.

You know, at least now I can publish.

What do you mean? I think I just blew my security clearance.

I'm sorry. It's no problem.

Time for a change of vocations anyway.

There must be a place in the private sector for an unemployed nuclear weapons designer, don't you think?

What? What?

You turned it?

No, no. It happened by itself, spontaneously.


It's counting down. It's going to blow.

Probably neutron flux.

Radiation from the core can screw up this kind of solid-state timing circuit.

I never heard of that.

Yeah. Well, live and learn.

Gentlemen, we've got a little wrinkle here.

Listen carefully,

and do exactly as I say.

Well, at least we have 999 hours to dismantle it.

I don't think so.

Time-based circuits tend to deteriorate exponentially, faster and faster.

Jesus, why did we bring it back here, then?

Why not? Where do you want to take it?

How about Treman Quarry? What?

Sure. It's a couple of square miles at least, no one around. It's perfect.

A couple of square miles.

Paul, if this thing goes, you're going to get a really good view of a 50 to 70 kiloton explosion!


You don't know what you took, Paul.

This is special stuff. It's very nasty.

It's so hot, we don't even know how to test it.

It's a miracle you didn't kill yourself just carrying it home.


if I unscrew this, I can get the core out, right?

Yeah, yeah.

Got a screwdriver?

No, no, a bigger one.

What? It's jammed.

Let me try.

It's funny, the same thing happened at the Trinity test, 40 years ago.


The core got stuck halfway in while they were trying to insert it.

I wouldn't bump it around like that, if I were you.

It might decide to fire just for spite.

So, what do we do?

We could drill it. No, no.

We might get a static charge.

Disconnect the batteries. No.

What about sparks? Cut the main lead.

Yeah. That's worth a try.

I'll need to remove the middle plate. Do it. Do it.

Anybody have a Phillips head screwdriver?

How much time do we have?

I don't know. It's an exponential decay.

Can't you just answer the goddamn question?

I was never good at math.

All right, as Y approaches infinity, T is equal to one plus one over N to the... To the nth.


You're a bright kid. You should do something with it.


I make it about...

Three minutes to zero.

Oh, boy.

Excuse me, sir, what about evacuation?

Evacuation? Of who?

The people.

You mean New York? Pennsylvania? Vermont? Canada? Those people?

I'm at the main connector. Okay, go ahead.

Wire clippers. Yeah, right here.

What the hell is that?

Firing circuit. I programmed the photo strobes to charge automatically

90 seconds from detonation.

The timer must be all messed up.

Maybe I should have made it 10 seconds.

Anyhow, look, it doesn't matter.

All I have to do is cut the power.

It's this wire, right over here.

All right, here I go. Ready? One, two...

No, no, no! Don't cut it! Don't do anything!

Don't do anything? What are you, nuts?

Regular photographic strobe units? That's what you used?

Exactly. All right, here's the problem.

Once those things are charged, even if you turn them off, they can discharge while you're unplugging them.

What are you talking about? This thing could detonate just from our trying to disconnect it.

Okay. Now.

Just wait. I'll wait. It won't wait.

Okay. Okay.

Okay, now either that thing is going to work or it's not.

If it's not going to work, we can all just stand here till it reaches zero, at which point nothing will happen.

However, I think it's going to work.

Which means we have to disarm it. How?

Cut the leads between the photo strobes and high explosives.

How many leads are there? Six along this strip here.

Six leads, six wires.

Now, the trick is, we have to cut them at exactly the same time.

And I mean exactly. Or what?

Shit, really? Come on, let's just do it.

Colonel, you'll count for us.

Give him the cutters. You're number one, two, three, four, five...

You, over here.

This one's yours, right there.

Sorry about before, kid, just doing my job, nothing personal.


Okay, everybody ready? Wait. I don't have a cutter.

Oh, my God. Get us another cutter from over there.

Come on, come on, come on.

I can't believe this.

You telling me I'm going to die 'cause some asshole didn't bring a pair of pliers?

I got it. I got it.

What is that? Is that going to work? I hope so.


Okay, I'm going to count backward from five.

Everybody ready? Wait, wait.

Do we cut on one or on zero?

180. On zero, like this.

Three, two... This is just a rehearsal. Nobody do anything.

Three, two, one, cut. Everybody understand?


Okay. Anybody want to make a bet?

No? Okay.

Here we go, for real, this time.

Five, four, three, two, one.

That was interesting.

What do you think you're doing?

Letting a little fresh air in.

Get away from that door.

Give it up, Colonel.

We blew it!

What are you going to do, make us all disappear?


And him?

And all of them?

Too many secrets.

Too many secrets.

Dr. Mathewson, remember Jenny?

Hi. Hi.

Paul! Mom.

It's okay. I did something.

What happened?


I'll tell you about it later. Let's get out of here.