A meteor is heading for Earth. The first 40 minutes are the least bad. Astronomers are caught napping when schoolboy Wood spots something strange coming this way. Washington keeps a lid on it, until TV reporter Leoni stumbles across 'the biggest story in history'. A year hence, we will be destroyed, unless the US-Soviet space mission Messiah can deflect the asteroid's course by detonating nuclear explosions deep in its core. It's at this point - when the President (Freeman) places the fate of the world into the hands of astronaut Duvall and his crew - that the movie really goes into under-drive. They learn the value of self-sacrifice and togetherness. If director Leder fails to make the personal stories come to life, she's even sketchier on the big picture - her idea of social breakdown begins and ends with a traffic jam.