Deep Impact feels like an old-fashioned Irwin Allen disaster flick — and I dig that. Basically, the world learns that an asteroid is headed toward earth and we have one year before we can attempt to destroy it with a NASA space mission. So the mid-point of the film focuses on that mission, and — spoilers ahead! — it doesn’t go well. So Deep Impact gets even more dire in its second half, as humanity participates in a lottery in which a fraction of the population is escorted into underground caves while the majority of people wait above ground for the asteroid to collide, causing apocalyptic tsunamis and clouding the atmosphere so heavily that all life on Earth is doomed to perish.
Screenwriters Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) and Michael Tolkin (The Player) make sure the drama unfolds through the film’s characters’, giving Deep Impact a human, relatable point of view — unlike it’s more ‘action for action’s sake’ sister film, Armageddon (released the same summer). The ensemble cast includes Morgan Freeman as the US President, Tea Leoni as a news reporter who uncovers the biggest story of our times, Elijah Wood as a young man who first observes the asteroid during a high school astronomy excursion, and Robert Duvall as the head astronaut on the mission to destroy the asteroid. Vanessa Redgrave, Maximillian Schell, James Cromwell, and Richard Schiff play smaller roles. Directed by Mimi Leder (The Peacemaker).