Episode #27: Atomic Train

In this episode, we took the midnight train going anywhere… far away from the bad TV mini-series, Atomic Train (1999). Could a dangerous Russian nuke end up on a runaway U.S. train? What would a major city like Denver do to evacuate after a nuclear detonation? How can a movie with a runaway train, nukes, hazardous chemicals, Rob Lowe, and 50+ helicopters be so boring? Tim Westmyer, Gabe, and special guest Elliot answer these questions and more.

This was a fun episode to record but a really tough movie to watch. If you are brave enough, it can be found on YouTube (for now at least): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV_fkGZGhk0

Before the atomic train conductor yelled “all aboard,” we recommend checking out:

Threads (1984 TV movie) and Special Bulletin (1983 TV movie)

The Stand (1994 TV mini-series)

-Michael Krepon, “Moving from MAD to Cooperative Threat Reduction,” Stimson Center, December 2001, https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/93680/Report41.pdf

Unstoppable (2010 movie)


Low Yield Hot Take: Iron Man 2

Low Yield Hot Takes are short blog posts about films with noteworthy nuclear plot points but not enough of an impact to escalate to a full podcast episode.


Iron Man doesn’t think we need a nuclear triad. Just an Iron Mono-ad?

I haven’t seen Iron Man 2 in a while, but I’m surprised how much movie plays with metaphors and terminology drawn straight from nuclear weapon history: misjudging proliferation timetables of adversary’s arsenal (iron man suits vs. Russia’s Joe-1), the fear of vulnerability after losing one’s deterrent (Iron Man going rogue or to a bar), weapon design theft (Ivan Vanko vs Klaus Fuchs), etc.

And with the Russian villain, rogue military industrial complex, and proxy wars, this movie could have really been called Marvel’s Iron Man: Cold War.

Fun random fact: one of the CGI software tools used by Industrial Light and Magic in the final fight scene of Iron Man 2 is called Nuke.