This action drama has all the components — a massive earthquake, a family rift and reunion, a death-defying rescue attempt and a flood — that combine to make “Trouble Shooters: Trapped Beneath the Earth” an entertaining adventure, a ’90s telepic version of the ’70s disaster movies.
When an eight-story apartment building in Utah is swallowed whole, a quake rescue team led by Stan Mather (Kris Kristofferson) and his son Frank (Leigh J. McCloskey) is called out to head the search-and-rescue operation.
Other son Cody (David Newsom) has been rifting with his family for several years and no longer works for the family firm. Instead, he has been involved in testing the scanning equipment that is required to pull off this latest rescue.
Cody is torn between what to do, since he has vowed to his mother — now divorced from Stan — never to return to the dangerous underground rescue attempts, but Cody’s ex-girlfriend — who’s now brother Frank’s girlfriend — pleads with him.
The vidpic features good thesping and a terrific technical support crew. Production designer James Allen’s sets and locations have the authentic feel of the site of a massive earthquake.
The underground scenes — shot at tight and awkward angles — lend great realism, with the feeling of claustrophobia achieved wonderfully by director of photography Eric Van Haren Norman.
Editors Ralph E. Winters and Eric S. Strand skillfully maintain suspense all the way through.
The writers — Wesley Strick (story) and Michael Pavone and Dave Alan Johnson (script) — don’t bring in many of the subplots until about the halfway point, which keeps things moving.
As everybody has to race against time and new obstacles, the Mather family also has to deal with ill feelings and guilt among themselves, which keeps the excitement going until the final scene.