Thousands of miles below the Earth's crust, an unknown disaster has brought the hot, spinning, liquid core to a halt. The result -- fierce electrical storms, erratic electric pulses, and violent bird swarms plague the planet as the protective electromagnetic shield above the atmosphere begins to disintegrate.
Combing through piles of data on unusual natural phenomena following the stoppage, a university professor uncovers the grave fact that Earth's total destruction by solar radiation is only months away. Anxious to have his findings confirmed, Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), seeks out Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci), an arrogant, but respected geophysicist working with the American government.
When the results come in, Keyes is summoned to Washington D.C. by General Thomas Purcell (Richard Jenkins) for a tense meeting with authorities. Following their discussion, the group begins hand picking the world's best minds to plot a mission to the center of the planet. Armed with nuclear bombs, the elite task force of ?terranauts", including Keyes and Zimsky, will attempt to jumpstart the ailing interior.
Based in the Utah desert, Dr. Ed ?Braz? Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo) is a highly skilled engineer who's been working on a subterranean cruiser for the past 20 years. Given a tight timetable and unlimited funds, Braz is commissioned by U.S. and UN officials to perfect his invention in three months' time.
Filling in the other seats on the unlikely underground operation are French atomic weapons expert Dr. Serge Leveque (Tcheky Karyo), pilot Col. Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and navigator Maj. Rebecca Childs (Hillary Swank). Above ground, the crew is supported by a roomful of experts lead by NASA Control Chief Talma Stickly (Alfre Woodard) and assisted by a convicted computer hacker (DJ Qualls) whose job is to control the dissemination of information on the Net.
Facing the threat of death, these untried adventurers plunge deep into the globe's surface in a last-ditch effort to restore the core.
Not since Prof. Lindenbrook led a group of explorers down an Icelandic volcano in Journey to the Center of the Earth has the inner workings of our planet received so much attention. Believable? Hardly, but this is after all science fiction. Deadlines, data and drama can all be manipulated to fit the outcome.
Still, putting plot problems and logic aside, The Core is a glimpse at what motivates people to step up to a challenge--duty, fame, individual interest, the thrill of exploration, and community concern. (Each character, of course, seems moved by only one of these ends.) Although repeated profanities and numerous death scenes are areas of caution, this crew's willingness to look for alternatives when faced with unforeseen challenges is at the very least a worthwhile message for older teens in this otherwise far-fetched fiction.