Fukushima 50 Review

Directed By: Setsuró Wakamatsu

Producer: Tsuguhiko Kadokawa

Writer: Yoichi Maekawa

Starring: Ken Watanabe, Tomoró Taguchi, Narumi Yasuda, Takumi Saitoh, Naoto Ogata, Kóichi Sató, Shiró Sano, Hidetaka Yoshioka

Audio: Japanese

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 122mins/ 2hrs 2mins

Distributed By: Altitude Film Entertainment

Release Date: 8th March 2021

On March 11th, 2011 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred just off the coast of Japan, which triggered powerful tsunami waves that decimated many coastal towns and cities. Among them was the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plants. Within an hour of the 6 minute long earthquake, they had lost all electricity to power their necessary cooling systems for the reactors. This film reenacts the events of those faithful hours following the earthquake, as those that worked in the powerplant gave their all to protect Japan and her citizens from an event that would rival the effects of Chernobyl. Starring Ken Watanabe as the Plant Manager Yoshida, directed by Setsuró Wakamatsu (Whiteout) and based off of the jaw-dropping book by Ryusho Kadota (On The Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi) that depicts the harrowing events of that dark day ten years ago.

We are now just days away from the 10th anniversary of the devastating Tóhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on the 11th March 2011. These events also led to the nuclear disaster that happened at the Fukushima Daiichi power plants. Where several explosions, nuclear meltdowns and pressure-release venting occurred, which led to the radioactive contamination of the entire town. I remember when the news hit my TV screen that day, I was glued to every update about the country I had longed for so many years to visit. I was checking twitter accounts for manga artists and YouTubers that I had been following for years, to thankfully learn that they were all safe. This event shook the world, as I for one never thought there was going to be another event similar to what happened in Chernobyl in the 80’s. Japan had experienced one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history, which triggered tsunami’s much larger than predicted. The damage done was harrowing to watch, and that was all before the nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima Daiichi occured.


This film depicts the chaos, danger and immense pressure the power plant workers went through in order to prevent a full on nuclear meltdown in all their reactors. If that had occurred, much of Japan would be contaminated, on a scale much larger than what happened in Chernobyl. The actors skillfully depicted the valiant efforts of the engineers, grounds crew and the cooperative workers that were brought in for support. Ken Watanabe played the Plant Manager, who was the one responsible for representing the workers of the powerplant. Having fought with the government officials along the way, trying to make them see sense. This film was an incredible watch from start to finish, although there were several hiccups with playing it on the Altitude player. As the stream kept breaking every half hour, resulting in it playing once again from the start and trying to find where I had left off. All the same, this is definitely a film worth watching. It is also highly rewatchable, as similarly over the last couple of months I have also found myself wanting to go back and rewatch the Chernobyl series that came out in 2019.

Ken Watanabe gave an incredible performance in this film, from start to finish. However he didn’t heavily outshine the rest of the cast. His co-star Kóichi Sató, who played Toshio Izaki the leading engineer in Units 1 & 2, gave an unbelievable performance. As his character took the harsh responsibility of creating suicide squads, which included several volunteers going out in pairs to manually go into the reactors to begin the venting process. This film deserves immense recognition, Golden Globes, Oscars, etc. But ultimately, this film will hopefully have a positive effect on raising awareness for those that were affected by this tragedy. And with the 10th anniversary now on our doorsteps, it has also been announced that the route of the Olympic Torch relay will also include Fukushima, as the 2020/21 Olympics has been named as the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’. Which symbolises a new start for Fukushima, which is still in the process of rebuilding and decontaminating the soil & water around the powerplants.

Buy it now: https://www.altitude.film/page/fukushima-50

If you would like to read the book that this film is based off of, then you can buy it here from Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/On-the-Brink-Ryusho-Kadota-Simon-Varnam-Akira-Tokuhiro/9784902075540

And if you would like to learn more about the events of that day, then there is also a Documentary about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster up on YouTube:

If you take home one thing from this film, then by all means let it be this pivotal quote:

“We believed we controlled nature. It was human ego.”

Overall: 9/10

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