The Core is a 2003 American disaster film loosely based on the novel Core by Paul Preuss. It concerns a team that has to drill to the center of the Earth and set off a series of nuclear explosions in order to restart the rotation of Earth’s core. The film was directed by Jon Amiel, and starred Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Tchéky Karyo, Hilary Swank, DJ Qualls, Bruce Greenwood, and Stanley Tucci.
After a series of disturbances caused by instability in the Earth’s electromagnetic field, leading geology expert Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and fellow scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) learn that the Earth’s molten core has ceased its rotation. Within a year, the Earth’s electromagnetic field will collapse, irradiating the planet. The three develop a top-secret plan with the United States government to bore into the Earth’s core and plant a series of nuclear charges at precise points to restart the core’s motion and restore the field. They design a multi-compartment vessel called the Virgil with the help of Ed “Braz” Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo), who has developed both a laser capable of quickly boring through rock and a material known as “unobtainium” suitable for the vessel’s hull. Keyes also enlists the help of a young computer hacker, Theodore Donald “Rat” Finch (DJ Qualls), to keep any word of the potential global disaster off the Internet for fear of causing a worldwide panic.
The vessel is piloted by the space shuttle Endeavour’s Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank). When the team accidentally drills through a geode-like structure, it drops a considerable distance to the bottom. When molten lava begins pouring into the hollow from the hole they created, Iverson has to exit the craft to restart the ship’s laser before the lava reaches the ship and makes repairs impossible. After completing the necessary repairs, Iverson is killed when a falling crystal shard hits the top of his helmet and pierces his skull. As Virgil continues its travels, it clips the edge of a huge diamond, breaching the hull of the last compartment. Serge sacrifices himself to save the nuclear launch codes before the compartment is jettisoned and crushed. Virgil eventually reaches the molten core. The new data they gather there reveals a serious flaw in their plan. The outer layer of the core is less dense than anticipated, and the planned explosion cannot generate the power necessary. After some quick calculations, they decide that by splitting their nuclear weapons into the remaining compartments and jettisoning each at specific distances, they can create a “ripple effect”, where the power of each bomb will combine with the power of the next, generating the needed energy wave. However, because Virgil was not designed to jettison undamaged compartments, the plan requires someone to deactivate a safety switch in Virgil that is located in an area exposed to the extreme temperatures of the core. Brazzelton volunteers and successfully deactivates the switch, dying shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile on the surface, the public becomes aware of problems after lightning super storms appear in cities all over the world. Finch is unable to stop worldwide panic but instead learns of the top-secret project “DESTINI” (Deep Earth Seismic Trigger INItiative), which is to be deployed if the Virgil fails. Finch relays his information to Keyes, who discovers that Zimsky was one of DESTINI’s lead scientists. DESTINI, according to Zimsky, was designed as a weapon to propagate earthquakes through the Earth’s core, but it unintentionally stopped the core’s rotation instead. Zimsky reveals the government will use it again in an effort to restart the core. Keyes is convinced using it again would have disastrous results, so he has Finch stall DESTINI while hastening efforts to complete the detonations. Keyes and Zimsky realize they have miscalculated the yield necessary, but Zimsky becomes trapped in a compartment. As the compartment detaches, Zimsky reveals that they need to use the main compartment’s nuclear fuel rod to achieve sufficient yield, which will save the planet but leave Keyes and Childs without power to escape the blast.
Because of the unique properties of the unobtanium shell of the ship, Keyes and Childs are able to use the planet’s heat to power the command section of the ship, escaping as the nuclear charges successfully restart the core. They break through the crust underwater, leaving them without power. They believe themselves lost, Finch finds them by tracking whale songs from a nearby pod circling the vessel. Sometime after the recovery, Finch is shown logging on to a computer at an internet cafe and releasing all the information about Project DESTINI and Virgil’s mission to the Internet, which reveals the truth to all and ensures that Iverson, Leveque, Brazzelton and Zimsky are not forgotten, but rather lauded as the heroes they are.