A deadly weapon. A high profile target.
After the awesome Deadly Outbreak from the review prior to this one, I was in the mood for another Die Hard in a Something type of film. After browsing the shelves I pulled out this one. Depth Charge, starring Eric Roberts and some guy called Jason Gedrick who doesn't seem to have much worthy of note since 1989's Iron Eagle. Still I quite like submarine films so the one-man-force deal should be fun, and RHI Entertainment are known for their decent bad-action and creature feature films.
On a routine training mission, the USS Montana receives a distress call from a sinking ship. Once they have assisted the refugees, seasoned naval officer Commander Krieg (Eric Roberts) seizes control of the sub along with the refugees, who are actually hired mercenaries. Now fully in control, Commander Krieg ejects the Montana crew to the (not so) sinking refugee boat and declares his demands to the President (Barry Bostwick, Spin City) via video feed; pay him the sum of One Billion Dollars (pinky finger to the mouth) or he will use the sub's nuclear warheads - and experimental stealth technology - to blow up Washington.... for world peace? What he didn't bargain on was medical officer Doc Ellers (Jason Gedrick, from (snigger) Desperate Housewives) and young sailor James Piersall (Chris Warren, from (haha!) High School Musical) hiding on board, and their uncanny ability to pick off his mercenaries one by one.
Well. That was that then I guess. It's hard to write about Depth Charge as it was just so.. bland. I was strangely intrigued for the most part and the 80 minute run time went by smoothly without too many groans at the bad acting (the President was hilarious and his aid was just.. terrible) but it's really just a 'blah' kind of film. You get that feeling as well when watching it, that the entire cast knew they were in a TV movie, that there were absolutely zero chance of getting an Oscar from this, so giving it your all wasn't a requirement.
This is Under Siege, Red October, Crimson Tide and Die Hard all wrapped into one low budget TV film. Gedrick is the star here; the Steven Seagal/Bruce Willis of the piece. He's okay in the role of the Doc and can fire an assault rifle, as well as kick and punch someone to the ground. The choreography in this was pretty average though so none of the fights are that great, but the gun violence is decent. He doesn't even spout one cool line in the film which was a huge disappointment. He takes Piersall under his wing, much like Seagal's Casey Ryback takes young Bobby Zachs under his wing, as the wise-cracking black sidekick - though Piersall is far less annoying than Zachs, thankfully. The mercenaries are all generic, right down to the 'hot but deadly' token woman.
Eric Roberts is of course why we are here and he acquits himself, in military speak, with an honourable discharge. He tries to make the best of what he has but he's obviously pretty bored with it. I also can't recall him leaving the bridge at any one point. They must have gotten in him to do his scenes in one day and paid him with cash. "Bada-bing bada-boom, I'm done." I don't blame him for going through the motions on this one. After all, he filmed this the same year as the SyFy channel film Cyclops. Poor guy. He gets to try a little 'acting' as the producers keep ramming home the fact that he's part delusional due to his pain medication, but otherwise he's just threatening his mercenaries and making small talk over the CB with Doc; that at least is funny, as Doc starts and ends every conversation with "Get off my sub!"
One thing irked me though. In Under Siege, Seagal is just the ships cook who happens to have formerly been a SEAL. In Depth Charge, JDoc Ellers is the ships doctor... who is given the launch codes to the sub missiles! That shit just doesn't happen. And just how were they transmitting live video feeds when submerged a hundred feet under water? No, no no no no...
The scenes outside of the sub with the President and his men are pretty poor. The script really is lifeless in these scenes, you can almost read word for word what they are going to say before they say it. "He was a loose cannon", et al. In bad action this can usually be funny but again, the laziness of this whole production made the scenes simply a recourse for getting from point A to point B. President asks "What's the situation?" and one of his dozen or so men and women say "Sir, he's demanding a billion dollars or he'll launch a nuclear missile at Washington." In one close zoom to the President's gloomy face I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable "God have mercy on us all." Unfortunately it didn't happen, or else I would have cheered.
I guess the overwhelming response I have to this movie is "Well.. I guess it could have been worse." And it definitely could have been. For a made-for-TV action thriller, it's not bad for 80 minutes. It's just not that good either. If it's on TV or a dollar pickup, and you simply have to see another Die Hard clone, it will do the job. But it's no Deadly Outbreak.
The R4 DVD put out by RHI and Paramount sports a nice 16:9 transfer and strong stereo soundtrack. Runtime a lean 80 minutes.
Ex-rental DVD for a buck.