Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Countdown to Zero makes old terrors radioactively new again.
  2. Inspired in part by the success of "An Inconvenient Truth," the makers of Countdown to Zero are determined to mobilize public opinion to zero out the world's nuclear arsenal. We all should be rooting for their success, because failure would leave no one left to mourn our mistakes.
  3. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    90
    As odd as it may sound, it's a remarkably beautiful movie.
  4. Like Charles Ferguson's excellent Iraq documentary "No End in Sight," "Countdown to Zero" has an agenda but has the cogent, reasoned rhetoric to support it.
  5. Made-up horror movies have nothing on Countdown to Zero, a documentary about nuclear security that won't make you sleep better at night.
  6. There are suggestions to help us sleep more easily, but the point is to wake us up.
  7. Walker integrates stranger-on-the-street testimony to further her general vibe of ignorance, thus pinpointing the true target of an agitated doc--our own blithe apathy.
  8. 80
    Some points are driven home over and over again and that repetition robs the doc of a bit of its power, but overall Countdown to Zero is effective and frightening.
  9. 80
    A terrifying and highly effective documentary.
  10. 80
    The movie takes as its mantra and organizing principle President Kennedy's observation, during his 1961 speech to the United Nations, that "every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness."
  11. 75
    In the film's most frightening sequence, Countdown to Zero imagines what would happen if someone detonated a bomb in the heart of a major city, such as New York City's Times Square.
  12. 75
    Illustrating the many ways nuclear weapons could kill you makes Countdown to Zero one of the most frightening documentaries you'll ever see, or endure.
  13. This is a sobering piece of advocacy cinema.
  14. 75
    Alternately edifying and alarming film about nuclear proliferation.
  15. Convincingly argued and extremely polished, it has theatrical potential for auds whose reservoir of worry about humanity's future hasn't already run dry.
  16. Paying to see Countdown to Zero is like tipping a fortuneteller to predict the manner of your death.
  17. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    70
    A politically urgent picture, it will also literally scare the breath out of what will certainly be a worldwide audience.
  18. 67
    Recounting the history of nukes, mankind's seeming inability to render them obsolete, and the many nightmare scenarios that are cropping up with almost daily frequency in this grim new age of terror-on-demand,Countdown to Zero is less a documentary in the traditional sense than a scathing piece of advocacy journalism.
  19. Although the movie intends to incite viewers to social action, it is just as likely to paralyze them with fear.
  20. 63
    The best medium in which to view Countdown to Zero is on The History Channel, not in a theater.
  21. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Jun 20, 2011
    60
    Walker was Oscar nominated for Waste Land this year, and while this occasionally unfocused doc doesn't hit those heights, it's still a valuable and scary film that should be seen.
  22. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    60
    Oddly, Countdown to Zero ends by suggesting that viewers get those nukes abolished by texting their disapproval to a phone number listed in the credits -- as if the governments of China or North Korea (or the United States, for that matter) are just waiting for a gentle rebuke from civic-minded documentary viewers.
  23. 58
    Walker has something important to say with Countdown To Zero, but if this movie were standing on a doorstep with a petition, most reasonable people would sign it quickly and send it on its way, rather than inviting it in to chat.
  24. 50
    An earnest, alarmist new docu-plea for nuclear disarmament, concludes with an orgy of such destruction. Mushroom clouds. Infernal white light. Obliterating energy blasts. It's all here, and mostly beyond the pale.
  25. A mess of a movie – a sprawling PowerPoint argument that covers too much ground way too fast, dispensing Wikipedia-calibre essays on a variety of subjects, from a blurred bio of J. Robert Oppenheimer, creator of the atom bomb, to an unsatisfying sidebar on A.Q. Khan, the world's first door-to-door nuke salesmen.
  26. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    40
    This is another well-intentioned but preaching-to-the-choir doc, and boring as well.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 2 out of 7
  1. Mar 30, 2012
    7
    The film makers don't try to disguise their disarmament agenda behind this picture, nor should they. It's eye-opening and upsetting but the mood is often positive and encouraging, as though this is still a threat but it's a threat that we're gradually moving away from through diligence and knowledge. Recommended viewing for everyone! Full Review »
  2. Feb 1, 2011
    6
    The history and the technological detail of the film is fantastic...That said, if I was a terrorist, then watching this film would be a fantastic way to get my knowledge base up on what it takes to build a nuclear bomb. The film is almost a 'how-to' for dummies! Full Review »
  3. Jan 2, 2011
    9
    This movie will shock you. It becomes evident after seeing it that it is really only a matter of time before the wrong people get their hands on fissile material. I really don't understand the negative reviews because the movie doesn't try to prove anything. It just shows how much uranium/ plutonium is out there and reviews well documented occurrences which it's nearly fallen into the wrong hands. Full Review »