Re: What's Up with the Warp Core (SPOILERS Into Darkness)
Kirk's percussive maintenance was probably a stopgap -- enough that they could reactivate thrusters (although, why the hell did they need the warp core to power the thrusters?) and return to orbit, but if they'd tried going to warp, they probably would've blown up.
My rationalization is that it's not needed for the thrusters, but for the impulse engines - that they couldn't make orbit on thrusters alone, and that the impulse reactor was taken out by the damage to the ship. They needed the warp core online to drive the impulse engines in lieu of it.
"Niceness is the greatest human flaw, except for all the others." - Brendan Moody
"...don't mistake a few fans bitching on the Internet for any kind of trend." - Keith R.A. DeCandido