Gasp for air.
Good old Phoenician Entertainment. They like to spread their product around amongst different distributors. Spreading the wealth, you say? Hardly — more like trying to diffuse the smell. The last little item of theirs that I reviewed was Air Rage — a rotting turkey left over from last year that Paramount was somehow coerced into releasing on DVD. Now we’ve got another stinker — Deep Water — that Fox has managed to allow itself to be responsible for inflicting on us on DVD. I must say I’m surprised that Fox is jeopardizing its hard won reputation for quality DVD releases with this latest effort.
Let’s see, there’s a special forces U.S. Navy guy who’s assigned to protect a British heiress on the U.S.S. Intrepid, a “Love Boat” style cruise ship headed to Hawaii. Except a nuclear device somehow goes off and causes a tidal wave that overturns the ship. Terrorists are somehow involved in the whole thing and they pursue the heiress through the overturned ship although it’s not clear whether they want to kill her or hold her for ransom. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is chugging to the rescue, with its commander Captain Josephson saying “oh my God” every so often, and consulting with Washington. But on board the Intrepid, the water is rising, bodies are falling, and time is running out.
Apparently, Fox is well aware of how bad this title is. The tagline it uses on the DVD case cover is “Gasp for air.” This phrase takes on added meaning for the unwary viewer, for Deep Water is so bad that you will be gasping for air in your home theatre as the cast is gasping for air on the screen. Of course, there’s no real surprise here. Deep Water has all the earmarks of a poor film sent directly to video. I don’t recall ever seeing the title appear at the theatres and the trailer itself advertises the video availability. A search of the IMDb finds the film listed under a different title — Intrepid, but believe me, the film’s title is the least of its problems.
The story is a blatant rip-off of The Poseidon Adventure dressed up with a uninteresting, muddled terrorist plot and nods to Jaws and TV’s The Love Boat. The cast is made up of James Coburn plus a collection of thoroughly unlikable actors virtually devoid of any acting ability. (Costas Mandylor, Finola Hughes, Sonia Satra — who are these people?) The action sequences are unexciting and the CGI work is amateurish.
Any cachet that James Coburn gained from winning the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in Affliction seems to have pretty well run out. How else to explain his appearance in Deep Water? Obviously, it was simply a payday for him, his presence designed to add some marquee value to the film. Still, it’s embarrassing to see him saddled with the clichéd dialogue that his character, Captain Josephson, has to deliver.
Director John Putch seems to have no idea of how to build suspense. He squanders plot opportunities to do so by poor shot selection and by failing to differentiate between the scattered pockets of people who are trying to save themselves after the ship overturns. It’s all a blur of similar looking corridors, sloshing water, guns going off, and bodies falling — except, of course for our intrepid hero of the piece (Navy Special Forces guy Alan Decker, played by Costas Mandylor) who manages to avoid getting shot at all despite exposing himself to the enemy numerous times.
Fox’s DVD release is a full-frame pan and scan effort. That’s probably a benefit in the case of Deep Water, as we are consequently subjected to only seeing about 75% of this mess of a film. The image transfer as such is competently done — reasonably sharp with little evident edge enhancement. Colours appear to be accurate enough, if a little soft-looking at times.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is competently handled, but uninspiring with limited effective use of the surrounds. Unfortunately, the dialogue is clear, so you can still hear it. English and Spanish subtitles are included.
The supplements include a trailer and director and cast filmographies. This allows us to learn that John Putch directed such other immortal fare as Tycus and Curse of the Shadow Borg and that Costas Mandylor starred in such worthies as Stealth Fighter and Shame, Shame, Shame.
Deep Water is worth exactly zero minutes of your time. Even the desire to be a James Coburn completist shouldn’t tempt you to rent this turkey, never mind buy it. Fox gives us a passable disc. Normally, I’d roundly condemn them for the pan and scan effort, but in this case, why bother?