A "stumble flick" is the sort of movie you "stumble" across while channel surfing; usually late at night when insomnia has got a vice-like grip on you, but most other people are sound asleep. And under these circumstances--when you can't sleep, you're too tired to read, and too lazy to change the channel--a stumble flick (also know as a stumbler) can be considered perfectly acceptable cinematic entertainment. A stumbler isn't so bad you have to turn it off, or so boring it makes you fall asleep, but also not so good that if you actually do start falling asleep you feel like you might miss something of merit. None of this is to say that a stumble flick is a particularly good movie. It's not the sort of thing you should ever rent, and you would certainly never recommend one to a friend. In fact, the most you should ever say about a stumbler is something like this, "I couldn't sleep last night, and I ended up watching some movie about some guys who steal a submarine."
Jason Gedrick and Eric Roberts co-star in Depth Charge, a stumble flick if there ever was one. Commander Krieg (Roberts) is the Chief Officer of the U.S.S. Montana, a state of the art submarine equipped with an arsenal of live nuclear warheads and stealth technology that can make it invisible to radar. Unfortunately, Krieg is a bitter man with terminal brain cancer who is taking medication that can turn people psychotic. Luckily, no one seems to realize this about Krieg, making it possible for him and a crew of terrorists disguised as Icelandic fisherman to hijack the submarine and use it to extort a billion dollars out of the United States. Because he's so crazy, Krieg kills his former crew, because, you know, that's what terminally ill brain cancer sufferers do when they are on an experimental drug that makes them go psycho (even though no one seems to notice). What Krieg doesn't know--but anyone who has ever seen Under Siege does--is that there is someone left on the ship that just might thwart his nefarious plans. That someone is "Doc" Ellers (Gedrick) the ship's medic, who also happens to be a badass killing machine that could make most Navy S.E.A.L.S. cry like babies. Ellers is joined by Piersall (Chris Warren, Jr.), the only other crew member not slaughtered, and together they set out to stop Krieg. Okay, it's mostly Ellers who does the stopping, killing off terrorists like his name was John McClain, while Piersall mostly whines like a punk-ass bitch. Will our heroes be able to stop the diabolical Krieg before he launches his arsenal on the world?
Imagine for a moment, if you will, Die Hard on a submarine, which of course is Under Siege, so now just imagine Under Siege as a made for television movie. Can you do that? Are you imagining Under Siege as a made for television movie, with the low budget production values, an uninspired and unoriginal script, and a cast of actors who all look like they would like to be taken seriously, but seem resigned to the fate that their careers have led them to star in a movie called Depth Charge?
Well, if you can imagine that, then there's really not much reason to watch Depth Charge. Sure, this is not a terrible film; it is just shameful in its mediocrity and unexceptional execution. This is a film that is easier to forget than it is to remember, and easier to pass by while it stares out from you on the shelf of the video store. Renting it would constitute a foolish waste of time; whereas watching it late at night on television, when you can't sleep, the only thing being wasted is time that you're not really sure what to do with in the first place.
Depth Charge is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good, with a clean transfer and no visible artifacts, flaws or defects.
Depth Charge is presented in English in 2.0 Dolby Digital. The sound mix is good with consistent levels and good separation between dialog and music.
No bonus materials.
If you go to the video store, and all the copies of Das Boot, Under Siege, The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide are all checked out, and you still want to watch a movie about a submarine, then go home and keep your fingers crossed that this is on cable. But whatever you do, don't pay to watch it.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]