Friday film club!

It’s appallingly hot for a Friday in the UK, and the team (Sophie Pym (SP), Zoe Rutherford (ZR), James Ross (JR) and Gwyn Winfield (GW)) got into what CBRN film is worth a watch this weekend when the weather finally breaks. What did we miss? Let us know your favourite or what we got wrong!

Broken Arrow 

Not a CBRN classic, a greater Slater/Travolta/Woo combo and  the high water mark for Travolta’s 90’s renaissance. A great reveal for Travolta’s character in about the first third – anyone that reckons they saw that coming is not being honest with themselves! Cristian Slater nails it with ‘I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it’. (JR)


Depicts the fear pandemics create in a great way, and shows the lengths people will go to to not contract it, or hide it if they have. The lead character sets up rules the group needs to follow to survive: “One, avoid the infected at all costs. Their breath is highly contagious. Two, disinfect anything they've touched in the last 24 hours. Three, the sick are already dead, they can't be saved. You break the rules, you die. You follow them, you live. Maybe.” Good twists and communicable horror. (ZR)

Dr Strangelove

It’s so quotable! Pretty much every time people introduce themselves in my head I hear Peter Sellers “If that really is your name…” That aside, it remains a film for our time, mis/disinformation, feckless politicians, soldiers doing their best despite poor leadership and a big board. It also manages to be an older film that is unlikely to be cancelled and asks relevant questions about deterrence. (GW)

Erin Brockovitch

So many of these films are made up, and it’s important that this is a true story – CBRN is not just a fairytale. It’s also a fairly uplifting story about how one person can make a difference against corporate monoliths. Cracking Julia Roberts film. (SP)

Last Train to Busan

The only person that doesn’t like zombies are zombies themselves, and Last Train to Busan is a cracker. The first to ask, “What is zombies were really fast?” and it manages to bring the fate of the passengers on the train to the fore, rather than the ‘extras’ that proliferated World War Z. If there is going to be one zombie film in here it has to be this one, and if you disagree, then ask yourself ‘why is your ring tone is so tacky.’ (GW)


The first of our Morgan Freeman movies, and can anyone involved in CBRN say they don’t snuggle up to this film on a Friday night, shouting the next lines! It might not be the most accurate of films, but sometimes idiocy is your only option! (SP)

Sum of All Fears

Little known fact: In the film ‘John Clark’ uses an alleged CIA chemical spray to cut through a chain-link fence. The technical adviser on the film was asked if he could acquire a real can of said spray, but said ‘No, I don’t want to go to prison’ The name of the spray?  ‘Ice Piss’. It also has a dramatic solution to Baltimore’s traffic problems! (JR)

The Divide

The only film since my childhood to make me look away from the screen. Shows both the physical effects of radiation, and the psychological impact of nuclear war in gripping, and sometimes gruesome ways. The group dynamics and their disintegration when food becomes scarce leaves you with the feeling that it is exactly what would happen IRL. (ZR)

The Rock

A favourite of mine purely for the VX being in an ‘elegant string-of-pearls configuration.’ It’s also weird that Nicholas Cage is not more attractive to partners due to him being a massive CBRN nerd! Perhaps not the most accurate film but it’s nice to have a film that makes CBRN cool. Who can forget Connery/Mason’s average day [Shurley shum mishtake! Ed]! (JR)

When the Wind Blows

It’s hard to pick one nuclear film from 1980s UK, and Thread’s might be someone’s top pick… but Raymond Brigg’s book ruled my childhood, and the film managed to do the near impossible of being better than the book. A lovingly mundane but effecting story of an old couple that are doing their best to follow government advice in the face of the impossible. Like Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies, it is perhaps not a film for the young, but what a powerful story. (GW)

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