67% The Maze Runner Sep 19
65% A Walk Among the Tombstones Sep 19
52% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
84% Tracks Sep 19
92% The Guest Sep 17

Top Box Office

11% No Good Deed $24.3M
72% Dolphin Tale 2 $15.9M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $8.1M
19% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $4.9M
20% Let's Be Cops $4.4M
89% The Drop $4.1M
37% If I Stay $3.9M
36% The November Man $2.8M
33% The Giver $2.6M
67% The Hundred-Foot Journey $2.4M

Coming Soon

68% The Equalizer Sep 26
70% The Boxtrolls Sep 26
86% The Two Faces of January Sep 26
—— Two Night Stand Sep 26
91% Jimi: All Is by My Side Sep 26

New Episodes Tonight

100% Garfunkel and Oates: Season 1
—— Haven: Season 5
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
56% Married: Season 1
39% Rush: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Discuss Last Night's Shows

86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
83% Extant: Season 1
—— Franklin & Bash: Season 4
—— The League: Season 6
56% Legends: Season 1
24% The Mysteries of Laura: Season 1
59% Red Band Society: Season 1

Certified Fresh TV

87% Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
91% Doctor Who: Season 8
83% Extant: Season 1
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
87% The Knick: Season 1
89% Manhattan: Season 1
97% Masters of Sex: Season 2
90% Outlander: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
87% The Strain: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Countdown to Zero (2010)



Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 5

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 2,402


My Rating

Movie Info

COUNTDOWN TO ZERO traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker (The Devil's Playground, Blindsight), the film features an array of important international statesmen,


Documentary, Special Interest

Nov 23, 2010


Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now

Latest News on Countdown to Zero

July 23, 2010:
Critics Consensus: Salt Is Moderately Tasty
This week at the movies, we've got a spy on the run (Salt, starring Angelina Jolie and Liev...


Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

All Critics (87) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (69) | Rotten (16) | DVD (2)

Comes loaded with a relatively big budget and a line-up of talking heads more powerful than a meeting of the Bilderberg Group.

June 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like the ongoing threat itself, Countdown is simply numbing.

August 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Countdown to Zero may not be the most fun you'll have in the movies this year, but it is absolutely mandatory viewing.

August 7, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Made-up horror movies have nothing on Countdown to Zero.

August 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The news is ugly. The film is often gorgeous and wields a cumulative power to humanize potential devastation.

August 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A bluntly effective media campaign as opposed to a well-articulated documentary.

July 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comment (1)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A whirlwind tour of human failure ...

July 6, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Lucy Walker's chilling documentary serves as a reminder that the threat of a nuclear bomb going off somewhere in the world to devastating effect has not diminished just because it has slipped from the public consciousness.

June 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Skilfully crafted and smoothly assembled...

June 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

An urgent wake-up call.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

We've gone backwards rather than forwards. To watch a film such as this is to shudder all over again.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

The film's most sobering fact: any world leader has a maximum of 10 seconds to decide to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

The threat of nuclear disaster is clear and present according to this documentary. Yet its argument that Armageddon is right around the corner is as terrifying as milk.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK] | Comment (1)
Daily Mirror [UK]

The chilling and highly informative film shows how perilously close we are to nuclear catastrophe, either via terrorism, Dr Strangelove-style cock-up or simple accident.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Screamingly urgent and contemporary.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Countdown to Zero leaves you uneasy enough about the threat from nukes, but also amazed that to date, at least, no blunder has ended in annihilation.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

This campaigning documentary offers a sobering warning that the possibility of nuclear destruction is still very much with us.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

A worthy, important effort - but not a great one.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

A 91-minute warning to give this generation something to worry about.

June 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

A valuable and scary film that should be seen.

June 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Looking at Walker's film objectively, it suggests how damn lucky we've been so far, and attempts to finish on an 'upbeat' note - after scaring the bejesus out of us

June 19, 2011 Full Review Source:

Sobering stuff, especially when smart talkingheads - including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-US Secretary Of Defence Robert McNamara - confirm it's a matter of "when" not "if". Eek.

June 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

By miscalculation, accident or madness (not to mention badness), mankind, or much of it, could evaporate in a nuclear cloud ... the film grabs our attention

February 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

If its aim was to scare me, it succeeded.

December 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This film may not be the best researched or most balanced, or most reliable documentary of the year, but it is the scariest.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Audience Reviews for Countdown to Zero

This documentary about the looming threat of all out nuclear war runs about 45 minutes too long, which means it would have made a disturbing, impactful, and very very good hour long TV special. As a feature length film, however, it wears out its welcome.
In a nutshell, the film argues that building a nuclear bomb is relatively easy, although it doesn`t tell us how to do that - for obvious reasons. What is needed is a lot of uranium or plutonium, a substance that is rather difficult to obtain. Investigating further, the film reveals that much uranium has nevertheless fallen into the wrong hands, and several nations have been able to obtain nuclear weapons, either by stealing them, finding missing nuclear warheads (yes, this has happened), or building them with obtained uranium. Frightening scenes emerge in a particular sequence that describes just what would happen if a nuclear bomb were to detonate in a major city. Not only that, several past instances are revealed where all out nuclear war was a minute`s decision away from occurring, many of these instances reminiscent of the Stanley Kubrick war film Dr. Strangelove.
Given the material that Countdown to Zero presents, this would have been a great 45 minute documentary that would have had me worried for the future, and anxious to make a difference. But the film is actually twice that length, and instead left me confused, wondering how much of the movie was made out of sheer concern for the survival of our species, and how much of it was incessant fear mongering.
April 23, 2011

Super Reviewer

This documentary on the history and ultimate danger of nuclear arms (not nuc-u-lar, sorry President Bush) is alternating informative and terrifying. Director Lucy Walker utilizes a wealth of interview subjects from high-ranking positions to offer tremendous insight into the shocking ease of acquiring a nuclear weapon and the danger this poses. As a brush-up on history, several talking heads reveal terrifying anecdotes about how close the world came to being one big mushroom cloud. One weapon silo operator reveals that the Pentagon brass bristled at having a safety code imposed by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. So they made the launch code all zeroes, a fact that every person sitting in a silo knew. At any point, somebody could have started nuclear Armageddon at will. Walker lays out a fairly tight case for the reduction of nuclear arms and the need for far better safety protocols to go with a stiff dose of diplomacy. Perhaps enough Congressmen were watching, because during the 2010 lame duck session, Congress passed the START Treaty, which is an agreement with Russia to reduce arms on both sides. Countdown to Zero is an effective little documentary that states a convincing case that occasionally seems more professorial than necessary.

Nate's Grade: B
January 10, 2011
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

A horrifying reminder of the dangers of nuclear weapons that remains. Many of us have forgotten since the end of the cold war that all these weapons are still with us and the need to get rid of them not only because of the threats or war but also mistakes, possible accidents or even worse theft by terrorist.
December 18, 2010

Super Reviewer

the history channel ('s all i watch on teevee, well, that and the nature channel ... no, really!") figures maybe we forgot about the bomb what with the economy, oil spills, will farrell, and dancing with the stars and so herein is a timely reminder that terrorists remember and that we still live in a world of s**t. the advice here is that we, the people, still DO COUNT and can effect a change, if only we ...
er, uh, what was i talkin' about? i hate when i do that. anyway, what's on the nature channel?
August 8, 2010

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Countdown to Zero on our Movie forum!

What's Hot On RT

Red Carpet Roundup
Red Carpet Roundup

100 pics from Toronto Film Fest

Hunger Games
Hunger Games

New Mockingjay - Part 1 trailer

New on DVD & Blu-Ray
New on DVD & Blu-Ray

Godzilla, The Fault in Our Stars

24 Frames
24 Frames

Longest-running American sitcoms gallery

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile