Escape Under Pressure

There's a reason direct-to-cable features have such a stigma attached to them. Many of them, indeed most of them, are bad - worse than Deuces Wild bad.

I had the misfortune of seeing Escape Under Pressure on a big-screen television, a medium which only increased its faults. Don't make my mistake. If you must watch it, see it on a 8 inch portable set with a cracked volume knob that you have to twist counter-clockwise in order to turn off the set.

The plot? The plot is connect-the-popular-movies. Take Under Siege (itself a Die Hard clone). Set it on a Greek tourist boat. Replace Steven "Squinty" Seagal with Rob "Flimsy" Lowe (yes, Rob Lowe). Make the villain a generic Brit whose main attribute is that he looks like Jason Isaacs from a great distance.

In the middle of the film, it switches lame rip-off tracks to Titanic (with a dash of any James Bond film involving scuba gear). Still here? Good. Wouldn't want you to miss the ridiculous Tom Clancy sub battle (and when I say sub, I mean in sub-par, substandard, etc.). Sprinkle in a dash of Tomb Raider and the alternate ending to the first Austin Powers film, and I think I've sufficiently ruined things for you.

By the way, the hero wins. Just in case there was any suspense.

With vehicles like this one, one wonders where Lowe thinks he's going when he leaves "The West Wing." Certainly, if this is the highest-caliber flick he can get a lead in, he may want to explore the possibilities opened by fast food management ("Hi, would you like a Youngblood Burger? How about a side of St. Elmo's Fries?").

What's really terrible is that Lowe is the best part of Escape Under Pressure. He's certainly a sight more interesting than the "special" effects. One wonders, indeed, why they are "special." They're like the dumb kid who gets stuck in the Gifted class because his deluded mother screamed at the principal for three hours, insisting on the brilliance of a child who thinks that Ben Franklin owned a Mint, and therefore had good breath.

Literally, this is the worst CGI ever. There's not texture, no attempt at following the basic laws of physics. It's a lot of polygons clumped together to form objects that might as well have the phrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell" stamped on them. I've seen better effects on "Charmed" (not that I know anything about that show, much less watch it).

I won't even discuss the dozens of stupid screenwriting blunders, the one-dimensional characters, or the simple idiocy with which the whole film was executed. Escape Under Pressure makes Orgy of the Dead seem like a rollickin' good time.

Whatever happened to TV-movie pride (I know I'm digging deep here, folks). The medium used to be a way for up and coming directors to get some exposure (a la Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter). Now it seems to be an excuse to keep actors like Lowe and Corbin Bernsen in the public eye, if only for two hours.

But this...this... There are no words. None.

Okay, there is one, and I'm loathe to use it, but it's so damn fitting: