Disaster movies are especially satisfying when the world becomes an epic nightmare itself. As Trump and his congress of Republican a-holes work to strip the people of education, health insurance, equal rights, a livable planet, etc., seeing a nuclear power plant blow its top off feels like a form of justice. (That moment in Pandora when all the rats flee town is quite a cinematic representation of the animal kingdom finally saying, "Hey, mankind. We're outta here!") And since radiation doesn't favor the rich, the resultant catastrophe is egalitarian in a way that somehow feels right. Which isn't to imply that hierarchies don't still exist.
Cops and military personnel still get off on bossing people around and locking them up. Emergency personnel and higher-level technicians still wait for someone above to call the shots, regardless of what constitutes doing the right thing. Middlemen are afraid of getting in trouble. But it's the rule-breakers who save the day: the female motorcyclist (Kim Joo-Hyun) who hijacks a bus; the secretary who slips an alarming report about the plant to the President (Kim Myung-min); the plant worker (Jeong Jin-yeong) who's behind that report and just got demoted and continues to make noise anyway. For he knows that the ultimate sacrifices to be made will not be made by the avaricious, arrogant Prime Minister (Lee Kyeong-yeong) or the people who spend their lives worrying about rules. No. That will fall to the locals, the young workers for whom the power plant has always been the paycheck for a dead-end existence, whose bodies are already contaminated, whose livelihoods have never really been a concern of the leaders they've elected. Sound familiar?
And while the rebel Jae-hyeok (Kim Nam-gil) may be Pandora's hero because he's the only one who knows how to set up the explosives that will blast the plant to safety and himself to his death, really all the guys are heroes. The only difference being, they've got a few more days to live before their organs give out.