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Doomsday Gun
Doomsday Gun
Actors: Frank Langella, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Michael Kitchen, Francesca Annis
Director: Robert Young
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     2hr 0min

Based on the explosive true story of a scientist with one dream: to build the world's most powerful weapon - and he doesn't care who the customer is. But when the Iraqis make the buy, a top secret elite team swings into ac...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Frank Langella, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Michael Kitchen, Francesca Annis
Director: Robert Young
Creators: Adam Clapham, Colin Callender, Elaine Sperber, Michael Baker, Michael Deakin, Lionel Chetwynd, Walter Bernstein
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Hbo Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/30/2005
Original Release Date: 07/23/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 07/23/1994
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 5/19/2008...
The cautionary message of this movie is that those flush with oil money have generally little qualms about using that wealth to develop massive war machines to be eventually used against their customers and neighbors. Gerald Bull, a brilliant ballistics engineer, had a "dream" since childhood-- to build a "super gun" based on the concepts created by Jules Verne. Verne wrote a novel in which earth-based astronauts were launched to the moon via a gigantic gun. Being the impressionable young fellow that he was, Bull wanted to do the same thing, but not necessarily for humanitarian purposes. World renowned for his artillery pieces and modifications to missiles including the Iraqi Scuds that eventually were fired at Israel during the first Gulf War, Bull was a popular fellow in the international arms world. Alienated from the United States because of an embargo-breaking conviction, Bull decided that he would build his SuperGun, the biggest gun ever created, for anybody who'd pay the highest for it. Of course, not without his qualms, he proudly proclaims to Kevin Spacey, playing a CIA agent, that he won't work with the Russians.

For some reason though, his qualms didn't include the Iraqis who, at that time, were involved in a savage war with Iran. Bull, as played brilliantly and understatedly by Frank Langella, is something of the infante terrible of artillery design. He's a visionary in his designs and scientific skills, but a naif when it comes to world politics and the true nature of the very unsavory people he is working for over in Baghdad.

Alan Arkin plays a tough Mossad agent who does Bull the courtesy of warning him-- telling him in no uncertain terms that Israel will not allow the gun to be built as it is a direct threat to Israel. Bull dismisses him and continues his work. Bull is blinded by his dreams to build the greatest artillery piece ever created. With this gun, satellites could be launched into space and artillery shells lobbed accurately for hundreds of miles. In the hands of Saddam Hussein the entire power structure of the Middle East would have been overturned.

The movie does a nice job using semi-goofy computer graphics to explain the science behind the gun, and the work atmosphere in the engineering offices of his company show lots of excitement about the project, the excitement of developing something spectactular and powerful but zero comprehension as the likely consequences of what would happen once the gun actually was operational.

Michael Kitchen does a fine turn as Bulls pragmatic project manager and 2nd in command. Without qualms himself, Kitchen pushes the project along, pressuring manufacturers who are nervous that Bull's "Oil Refinery" work is more likely artillery related and thus illegal during the embargo against Iraq. Only when he is directly intimidated does Kitchen back off, and decide that the risks are too high to continue. He knows that there are too many who want the project scrapped and that the stakes are just too high. He quits, and likely just in time, too.

Bull continues on alone, testing his prototype successfully in the Iraqi desert. While his slimy clients are delighted they make more demands that increase the pressure on Bull and his colleagues. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly clear that Israel, the US, Iran, and the English all have powerful motives to stop the development of Bull's SuperGun which he calls "Project Babylon". Despite warnings from Alan Arkin's Mossad agent, and Spacey's increasingly cynical CIA operative to desist or risk death, Bull goes forward. The British turn a blind eye to his activities and allow his massive special order gun parts to be constructed and shipped out to Iraq in contravention of the ongoing blockade.

Bull is a man without qualms but brilliant in his field. Having helped the Israelis and the United States in previous conflicts with his artillery expertise, Bull believes that he is "owed" by them, and when he goes to collect on these imagined "debts" owed to him he is most astounded to find that he will get no help nor protection. Alienating all of his friends in the international community with his Project Babylon funded by fiscal shenanigans in the US, Bull has no idea how deep in trouble he is nor how easily he can be eliminated.

The is the story of a man with blinders on. Brilliant in some areas, but a fool in others his lack of pragmatism and a moral core put him at the highest centers of power and at the height of danger. His assassination is still unsolved.

This is an excellent movie with great performances from Arkin, Spacey, Langella, and Kitchen. It is the story of a man with a great vision who is on a long, long fall from grace much like Icarus who ignores every danger and every caution to see his "dream" fulfilled. Bull is amoral and pays a very high price for his lack of conscience. He is not an evil man in the classic sense, but a very shallow one who cannot see, and will not see even when shown, the very dangerous consequences that his "dream" will hold for others. When his assassination occurs it is not at all a surprise and certainly was not for Bull who seemed to be waiting for it though not with much fear. His concern was not for his life, but that his project would be canceled. This is a story of brilliance and total moral blindness. Excellent.

Movie Reviews

Artillery, Saddam Hussein and the Mossad = Gulf War
the_review_guy | United States | 05/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the true story of Dr. Gerald Bull played by Frank Langella in a simply excellent performance. Kevin Spacey is fantastic as a CIA agent with heart. Tony Goldwyn, son of Samuel Goldwyn (i.e. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - MGM) is perfect as the "true company man" for the White House NSC. Alan Arkin, a long-time favorite of mine, plays an Israeli colonel turned into a Mossad agent. And the characters playing the Iraqis are really, really good. Get the movie. It's pretty factual and quite amazing indeed.

Here's a few additional facts about the story to intrigue you:

Dr. Gerald Bull was the founder of Space Research Corporation. A Canadian ballistics expert, Bull modified artillery weapons, worked on the USA's HAARP gun program and upgraded SCUD missiles for various customers. He did work for every country, except Russia, which he hated (but the SCUD's he modified were Russian-made). He also did work, through the CIA, for the USA and some of its allies. His modified SCUD's rained down on Israel and Saudi Arabia, killing Israelis and American troops.

Dr. Bull had to run things through the customs services of many countries of course to move his weapons. He ran afoul of U.S. Customs and got a year in a federal penitentiary for which he did not forgive the CIA, instead expecting immunity.

Bull was contracted by Saddam Hussein, who at that time was a pro-U.S. interest (against Iran and supported by then-Vice-President Bush) to build a "Supergun" that would fire a 2,000 lb shell over 100 miles (and further). Saddam's hope was to be able to shell Israel with bio/chem weapons from an artillery gun (which is not uncommon) but from great range. Israel had destroyed Iraq's nuclear weapons reactor (designed to produce weapons-grade plutonium) for which Saddam vowed revenge. The Mossad gave a lot of warnings to Bull about helping Iraq arm, which Bull repeatedly ignored.

the CIA and British MI6 turned a blind eye to Bull's operations in Iraq, for which Bull, expecting protection, gave them info on the German bunkers and C&C centers Saddam had constructed underground. Ah, but in the spy business there are no sweethearts, and the Mossad assassinated Bull in Brussels before he could finish the "Supergun" (the Babylon Gun). A smaller version, the "Baby Babylon" gun had been completed and tested at that time. However, in the movie they give the suggestion MI-6 assassinated Bull as they show a silencer being screwed onto the barrel of what looks like a Walthers PPK.

This was all financed through a "bank" in America where funds were diverted from American taxpayers to Saddam, ostensibly for agricultural enterprises. Saddam reportedly paid Bull $25 million for his work. The myopic viewpoint at the time was that any enemy of Iran (i.e. Iraq) is a friend of the USA. Didn't quite work out that way.

After Bull was dead, MI6 feigned surprise at the discovery of "Supergun" barrel pieces being constructed in a foundry in England and they were impounded before they could all be shipped out (on Iraqi IL-76 transports I believe). Some pieces did make it out to Iraq.

Thus the silly and complicted politics of the Middle East. Where the USA once propped up the Shah of Iran and sold him 79 F-14A Tomcats, he was deposed and Iran became a U.S. enemy, and still is to this day. Saddam, a former protected entity, invaded Kuwait less than 6 months after Bull was assassinated, on August 2, 1990 - and the rest was seen on CNN 24 hours per day."
Don't Read too Much Jules Verne
Kendra | 04/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The cautionary message of this movie is that those flush with oil money have generally little qualms about using that wealth to develop massive war machines to be eventually used against their customers and neighbors. Gerald Bull, a brilliant ballistics engineer, had a "dream" since childhood-- to build a "super gun" based on the concepts created by Jules Verne. Verne wrote a novel in which earth-based astronauts were launched to the moon via a gigantic gun. Being the impressionable young fellow that he was, Bull wanted to do the same thing, but not necessarily for humanitarian purposes. World renowned for his artillery pieces and modifications to missiles including the Iraqi Scuds that eventually were fired at Israel during the first Gulf War, Bull was a popular fellow in the international arms world. Alienated from the United States because of an embargo-breaking conviction, Bull decided that he would build his SuperGun, the biggest gun ever created, for anybody who'd pay the highest for it. Of course, not without his qualms, he proudly proclaims to Kevin Spacey, playing a CIA agent, that he won't work with the Russians.

For some reason though, his qualms didn't include the Iraqis who, at that time, were involved in a savage war with Iran. Bull, as played brilliantly and understatedly by Frank Langella, is something of the infante terrible of artillery design. He's a visionary in his designs and scientific skills, but a naif when it comes to world politics and the true nature of the very unsavory people he is working for over in Baghdad.

Alan Arkin plays a tough Mossad agent who does Bull the courtesy of warning him-- telling him in no uncertain terms that Israel will not allow the gun to be built as it is a direct threat to Israel. Bull dismisses him and continues his work. Bull is blinded by his dreams to build the greatest artillery piece ever created. With this gun, satellites could be launched into space and artillery shells lobbed accurately for hundreds of miles. In the hands of Saddam Hussein the entire power structure of the Middle East would have been overturned.

The movie does a nice job using semi-goofy computer graphics to explain the science behind the gun, and the work atmosphere in the engineering offices of his company show lots of excitement about the project, the excitement of developing something spectactular and powerful but zero comprehension as the likely consequences of what would happen once the gun actually was operational.

Michael Kitchen does a fine turn as Bulls pragmatic project manager and 2nd in command. Without qualms himself, Kitchen pushes the project along, pressuring manufacturers who are nervous that Bull's "Oil Refinery" work is more likely artillery related and thus illegal during the embargo against Iraq. Only when he is directly intimidated does Kitchen back off, and decide that the risks are too high to continue. He knows that there are too many who want the project scrapped and that the stakes are just too high. He quits, and likely just in time, too.

Bull continues on alone, testing his prototype successfully in the Iraqi desert. While his slimy clients are delighted they make more demands that increase the pressure on Bull and his colleagues. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly clear that Israel, the US, Iran, and the English all have powerful motives to stop the development of Bull's SuperGun which he calls "Project Babylon". Despite warnings from Alan Arkin's Mossad agent, and Spacey's increasingly cynical CIA operative to desist or risk death, Bull goes forward. The British turn a blind eye to his activities and allow his massive special order gun parts to be constructed and shipped out to Iraq in contravention of the ongoing blockade.

Bull is a man without qualms but brilliant in his field. Having helped the Israelis and the United States in previous conflicts with his artillery expertise, Bull believes that he is "owed" by them, and when he goes to collect on these imagined "debts" owed to him he is most astounded to find that he will get no help nor protection. Alienating all of his friends in the international community with his Project Babylon funded by fiscal shenanigans in the US, Bull has no idea how deep in trouble he is nor how easily he can be eliminated.

The is the story of a man with blinders on. Brilliant in some areas, but a fool in others his lack of pragmatism and a moral core put him at the highest centers of power and at the height of danger. His assassination is still unsolved.

This is an excellent movie with great performances from Arkin, Spacey, Langella, and Kitchen. It is the story of a man with a great vision who is on a long, long fall from grace much like Icarus who ignores every danger and every caution to see his "dream" fulfilled. Bull is amoral and pays a very high price for his lack of conscience. He is not an evil man in the classic sense, but a very shallow one who cannot see, and will not see even when shown, the very dangerous consequences that his "dream" will hold for others. When his assassination occurs it is not at all a surprise and certainly was not for Bull who seemed to be waiting for it though not with much fear. His concern was not for his life, but that his project would be canceled. This is a story of brilliance and total moral blindness. Excellent."
Here's to the engineers
Robert Barnwell | Johnson City, Tennessee | 04/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As an engineer's son, I have never seen a better portrayal of an engineer's enthusiasm for new problems and new challenges. In one unforgettable scene, Frank Langella brought to the screen for the first time in my opinion what can only be called, "the-joy-of-development." Too often films that deal with invention focus on that moment when the problem comes together and is solved. What they fail to recognize is the first step, when the men and women are looking at the challenge ahead, has even more emotional potential. Thankfully the writers and actors in this film did not forget this human truth.The cast is excellent. The script is uneven, but the only reason this is obvious is because instead of staying mildly good throughout, like most made for cable films, this movie is mildly good with occasional scenes of brilliance; such as almost any moment what Langella or Spacey grace the screen.If you are an engineer or just have one as a friend or member of the family, see this film. It's a wonder."