An old-fashioned disaster epic that actually received a limited theatrical release in the U.K., “Flood” makes its U.S. debut on ION (the little-seen channel formerly known as Pax TV) as part of a deal with RHI Entertainment. The big, bloated, messy, nonsensical affair, in which a massive storm surge leaves much of London underwater, stars Robert Carlyle and Jessalyn Gilsig soaking wet for several hours. Loud and frenetic, the two-parter airs in one big lump and at least puts the barely flickering ION on the map as a programming option.
Of course, there’s been no shortage of similar projects, and the U.K.-centric setting probably explains why this project is getting such a modest U.S. launch. Wipe out California with a 10.5 earthquake, say, and you’re on NBC; submerge another country, and ION is your scheduling fate.
Based on Richard Doyle’s book, “Flood” fails to conjure up a single original note, down to the ignored warnings and bureaucratic ass-covering that precedes the drenching — a mix of CGI and rather unconvincing models. Storm experts Rob (Carlyle) and Sam (Gilsig) are separated, so he’s miffed when she receives flowers from another dude. Next thing you know, they’re up to their ears in the drink.
“What happened to us, Sam?” he eventually asks, having been emboldened to broach the issue by multiple near-death experiences.
The fast-flowing storm, meanwhile, leaves the deputy prime minister (David Suchet) and his response team (which includes Joanne Whalley) to grimace uncomfortably as they mull over terrible vs. horrible options, which may involve “prioritizing” in a manner that arbitrarily sacrifices a sizable number of Londoners.
Producer Justin Bodle banged out the script with Matthew Cope before handing the hash over to director Tony Mitchell, who relies heavily on Debbie Wiseman’s score — which repeats the same handful of ominous notes over and over again — in a futile attempt to manufacture suspense. Once the flood hits, the evacuation begins and the streets fill, the movie is one long collection of chaotic moments, killing time (and people) until Rob’s estranged egghead father (Tom Courtenay) concocts an improbable “It just might work” scheme hoping to ease the crisis, implemented during a climax that’s more tedious than tense.
Along the way, “Flood” fills hallways with raging torrents, washes away various characters and alters, repairs and forges relationships in a manner more reminiscent of the “Poseidon” remake than the original.
And by the time all has transpired, it’s not just London that’s taking on water.