Asubmarine trapped under the polar ice cap in the Bering Strait sounds like an exciting concept --- throw in a couple of scientists and a beautiful whale-watcher and there's a hook --- but "Sub Down" sinks under the weight of silliness and cliches.

Asubmarine trapped under the polar ice cap in the Bering Strait sounds like an exciting concept — throw in a couple of scientists and a beautiful whale-watcher and there’s a hook — but “Sub Down” sinks under the weight of silliness and cliches.

Stephen Baldwin toplines as some kind of scientist who’s “fun” and “cool”: The audience can tell this by his loud-print shirts, goofy Dutch-boy haircut and snarky anti-military attitude. He’s joined by fellow researchers Tom Conti and Gabrielle Anwar on board the USS Portland.

All is well — the researchers are researching, the sub crew is horsing around — when a Russian sub collides with the Portland and it sinks to the bottom of the sea. Well, it’s a big ocean, but darnit if two random subs don’t collide. You gotta hate it when that happens.

Unfortunately, the inherent drama in a submarine movie seems to have left the building, and the script by Howard Chesley is monumentally uninvolving.

But warning No. 1 comes right at the beginning: The director is credited as Alan Smithee. Uh-oh.

Baldwin smirks his way through with a wink, and Chris Mulkey, as the sub’s commander, valiantly tries to find a character. Anwar and Conti try, try, try, but ultimately, “Sub Down” drowns.

Stefano Mainetti’s music overwhelms; underwater effects and Hiro Narita’s photography are OK.

Sub Down

(Wed. (19), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production

Filmed in Luxembourg by Muraglia/Sladek Filmworks, Carousel Picture Co. in association with USA Networks. Executive producers, Tom Reeve, Romain Schroeder; producers, Silvio Muraglia, Daniel Sladek, Howard Chesley; director, Alan Smithee; writer, Chesley from a story by Muraglia, Sladek and Chesley.

Crew

Camera, Hiro Narita; editor, Cary Shott; art director, Peter Powis; arctic and underwater effects director, Rolf Buegler; sound director, Marc Fishman; music, Stefano Mainetti.

Cast

Cast: Stephen Baldwin, Gabrielle Anwar, Tom Conti, Chris Mulkey, Tony Plana, Joe Dain, Chris Taaffe Connolly, Eugene Williams, Matt Kennedy, Paul Abbott, Joel Traywick, Michael Caradonna, Doug McKeon.
Camera, Hiro Narita; editor, Cary Shott; art director, Peter Powis; arctic and underwater effects director, Rolf Buegler; sound director, Marc Fishman; music, Stefano Mainetti.
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