How the mighty fall huh? Who’d have thunk that Robert Carlyle, the actor once referred to as the British Robert De Niro, would stoop as low as to take the lead role in Flood, a low-budget British (although how “British” exactly when it’s entirely funded with South African and Canadian money?) attempt to make a glossy, high-concept, effects driven disaster movie of the type that Hollywood churns out in their sleep. Based on a really rather inept novel by Richard Doyle, Flood tells the story of a storm that clashes with a period of high tide and sets off an enormous tidal wave down the East Coast of England and into the River Thames. When said tidal wave overwhelms the Thames Barrier, the entire city of London comes under threat from total annihilation in under twenty four hours. Only “top” marine engineer Rob Morrison (Robert Carlyle), his estranged father Leonard (Tom Courtenay) and Rob’s estranged wife and Thames Barrier expert, Sam (Jessalyn Gilsig) can save the day. Or can they? Of course they can!
This is, after all, by the numbers filmmaking of the most stale and unoriginal kind. We’re talking the type where estranged father and sons will be reunited, doomed relationships will be saved and relationships rekindled, governments prove incompetent to the task, lone police commissioners (a wooden Joanne Whalley of Joanne Whalley Kilmer fame!) try to stand in the face of great pressure and do the right thing, time has to be raced against, the task to save London will require the sacrifice of one of the trio of main actors and the climax seems to show that director Tony Mitchell has an unhealthy hard-on for Michael Bay movies when he steals from The Rock (oh my god, someone call off the fighter jet from dropping a bomb at the last minute!) and Armageddon (the person chosen to make the “sacrifice” and the person who actually does it follow the same lead as Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in that American disaster movie!). The effects are of no higher standard then the average TV movie or weekly special-effects driven TV show. The film is overlong by a good twenty to twenty-five minutes. The dialogue is wooden and unoriginal and the performances are universally phoned in or, in the case – surprisingly – of Tom Courtenay, just flat out awful. He seems to think that this movie is akin to the work of Shakespeare and performs as such, causing him to remain completely out of place from his first scene to his last. The thing is though, these sorts of films (disaster flicks) work just as well as “so-bad-that-they’re-good” pieces of entertainment as they do genuine pieces of entertainment. Flood is very much of the former. It sticks so faithfully to the conventions, working against such unbelievable stacked odds (poor budget, poor performances and so on and so forth) that you start to kind of begrudgingly admire its underdog spirit.
However, the original source material is so awful that the film actually suffers from being so faithful. This is the sort of film that will prove an easy, empty watch if you’re looking for a bit of unoriginal, safe fun but let the fact that the film’s own distributors pulled it from a big screen release ten days before it’s debut (because of atrocious word-of-mouth at preview screenings) and decided to cut it’s loses and take what they could on DVD, serve as a warning to you going in.