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|Aaron Eckhart||Dr. Josh Keyes|
|Hilary Swank||Maj. Rebecca Childs|
|Delroy Lindo||Dr. Ed 'Braz' Brazzleton|
|Stanley Tucci||Dr. Conrad Zimsky|
|Christopher Shyer||Dave Perry|
|DJ Qualls||Theodore Donald 'Rat' Finch|
|Richard Jenkins||Gen. Thomas Purcell|
|Glenn Morshower||FBI Agent|
|Bruce Greenwood||Cmdr. Robert Iverson|
|Anthony Harrison||FBI Agent|
"The core of the earth has stopped spinning"
"Earth has a deadline"
A series of disturbances caused by instability in the Earth's electromagnetic field lead geologist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) learn that the Earth's molten core has stopped rotating; within a year, the Earth's electromagnetic field will collapse, irradiating the planet. The three develop a 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. A former colleague-turned-adversary of Professor Zimsky, the rogue scientist Ed "Braz" Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo), has created a substance he calls "Unobtainium" that gets stronger with heat and pressure. They decide to design a multi-compartment nuclear powered vessel Dr. Brazzelton fittingly names Virgil using this new Element. Dr Braz has also developed a laser capable of quickly boring through solid rock. Keyes then enlists the help of computer hacker Theodore Donald "Rat" Finch (DJ Qualls), to keep news of the potential global disaster off the Internet and stem a worldwide panic.
Virgil is piloted by space shuttle Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs (Hilary Swank). When the team accidentally drills through a geode structure, it drops a considerable distance. When molten lava begins pouring into the hollow from the hole they created, Iverson has to go outside to restart the ship's laser before the lava reaches them, making repairs impossible. After he finishes the repairs, a falling crystal shard hits the top of Iverson's helmet and pierces his skull, killing him instantly.
As Virgil continues, it clips a huge diamond, breaching the hull of the last compartment. Leveque sacrifices himself to save the nuclear launch codes before the compartment is crushed by extreme pressure. Virgil eventually reaches the molten core. The new data they gather there reveals a flaw in the plan. The outer layer of the Earth's Core is less dense than anticipated, and the explosions cannot generate the needed power. After some 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 push against the blast 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 that is in an area exposed to the extreme temperatures. Brazzelton volunteers- and deactivates the switch, dying shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile on the surface, the public becomes aware of problems after super storms start to cover 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 mission 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 has unintentionally stopped its rotation instead. Zimsky reveals the government will use it again to attempt a restart of the core. Keyes is convinced it will have disastrous results, so he has Finch hack into DESTINI's systems- to try to buy time. While working to set up their detonations. Keyes and Zimsky realize they have miscalculated the necessary yield, but Zimsky gets trapped in a detaching compartment. He reveals that they need to use the ship's nuclear fuel Pod to achieve the sufficient yield, which will save the planet but leave Keyes and Childs without power.
Because of the unique properties of the Unobtanium shell of the ship, Keyes and Childs are able to use the planet's heat and pressure 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 adrift. They believe themselves lost, until Finch finds them by tracking whale songs from a nearby pod circling the vessel. A week after the mission, Finch logs onto a computer at an internet cafe and releases the information about Project DESTINI- the Crew of Virgil- and their mission onto the Internet.
Theatrical : 2003-03-28 : United States of America
DVD : 2003-09-09