DVD Review: Depth Charge (2008)

Leaving Stealth Waters
for DVD Shelves


Okay, so I know technically we're not supposed to make sweeping generalizations but my guess is that Depth Charge's Naval officer Commander Krieg (Eric Roberts) is probably one of the only guys who assumes that being assigned to the Pentagon is a demotion rather than a promotion.

Hmm, let's look at the facts-- on the one hand you could be stuck fathoms below the level of the sea roughly forty-five miles west of Iceland with a bunch of dudes and on the other, you could have fresh air, sunshine, socializing, and a cushy spot in the heart of the American government. Tough call-- claustrophobia and the possibility of drowning at any given moment or darkness should the power go out or a fast car to whisk you away to great seats at sporting events? What to do, what to do-- well, if you're Eric Roberts in Spike TV's latest "Spike Guy Movie" and nuttier than a damn fruitcake, you're going to prefer the submarine.

Staging a coup and bringing numerous other militant forces aboard (basically a politically correct anti-UN style of ass-kickers including a the obligatory "hot Asian chick" who can kung fu with the best of them) within the film's first twenty minutes, Roberts' Commander Krieg feels pretty confident that his little ring of terror has become "the proud owner of the world's most powerful nuclear submarine."

After ensuring the USS Montana has gone stealth or (for civilians like this reviewer-- become invisible to trackers everywhere), The Dark Knight's Eric Roberts decides to hold what would have been his future place of employment-- Washington D.C.-- hostage for a ridiculous ransom. (Yeah, because that always works.) Spin City's Barry Bostwick plays our wise Commander-in-Chief who-- utilizing a nearby vessel in Icelandic waters, the USS Florida-- and upon that realization that two crew members of Montana are still on board ,decides not to give in to Krieg's demand at least until the film nears its eighty-four minute running time that is.

It seems that luckily for the president and unluckily for Krieg and his nefarious henchmen and woman, Desperate Housewives star Jason Gedrick's navy "Doc" and young crew member and electrician's mate James Piersall (High School Musical's Chris Warren Jr.) have managed to stay on the Montana-- basically completely by accident. However, intriguingly this isn't one of the first signs that possibly Krieg's crew isn't particularly up to snuff as within minutes of capture, they're already second-guessing his command and constantly asking questions that don't really meet the Navy man's expectations that he's the man with the plan, Stan.

Fortunately taking advantage of the fact that the vessel is larger than one would've initially expected, Doc (who we quickly realize is much more Buffy the Vampire Slayer than Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) and Piersall decide to take on the group by shutting the sub down one section at a time, picking off each villain in order for the power to go off long enough that the USS Florida and Bostwick's President can determine their location. No, I'm not making this up.

Originally filmed and broadcast in High Definition for Spike's DIRECTV channel (and predictably, there's a reference to high definition DIRECTV within the first five minutes), the color transfer to the DVD is excellent and while Roberts has loads of fun trying to out-ham everyone onscreen in a way that seems he modeled his character on Travolta's "would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?" madman from John Woo's Broken Arrow, ultimately Depth Charge is a mindless, subpar hodgepodge of Executive Decision, Under Siege, Die Hard, Crimson Tide, Speed, and Passenger 57.

Although the script itself is particularly weak as Piersall constantly jokes about which A-list black actor would play him in the film version of their capture and we're left to believe that aside from severe puncture, stab, and gunshot wounds, the two heroes can still roundhouse kick with the best of them (although annoyingly never tying up or restraining each villain they manage to knock out) as they none-too-covertly chatter loudly on their walkie-talkies, it's a much better Spike offering than the recent disastrous Kung Fu Killer.

While Variety's Brian Lowry amusingly noted in a cynical response to the channel's "if they're hungry enough, guys will watch anything' strategy," as Spike's press-release reveals that nearly 1.5 million viewers tune into the original films each and every month, it's still a fun Saturday afternoon B-movie time-waster of great production value that's polished even more for RHI and Genius Entertainment's DVD release on February 3rd. However, viewers tuning in during this economy will want to shout at Krieg that going to the Pentagon is actually a good thing since at least he'll have a job unlike many of us.