At the film's opening, a small town called Huntingburg, Indiana, is being
flooded by constant rain and therefore evacuated by its sheriff (Quaid).
But just as the evacuation is being completed, an armored truck with all
the bank's money gets stuck in the rising water. When the driver, Charlie
(Edward Asner), and his partner and nephew Tom (Slater) call for help on
their radio, the transmission is intercepted by a band of looters headed
by Jim (Morgan Freeman), who then slog into town to get the goods. Before
you know it, Charlie's been shot, and Tom is swimming away into the darkness
to hide the booty.
Meanwhile, a woman named Karen (Driver) is trying to save her recently
restored stained-glass windows of the local church by attempting to pump
the water out of the sandbagged churchyard. She meets Tom, who has come
in out of the rain, but she thinks he's a looter so she clocks him on the
head with a crucifix and takes him to the sheriff's office. After he is
locked in the holding cell, he begins telling his story about the real looters.
Soon all are involved in a soppy cat and mouse game, and it becomes unclear
who is on whose side.
There are plenty of thrills and chills in this movie written by Graham
Yost, and plenty of believable characters, too. Driver is not only a delightful
actress, but her American accent is so flawless, one would have no idea
she was British if one didn't know it from her other appearances. Slater
and Freeman, at first enemies, are able to form a believable bond when they
are presented with a common problem. Quaid is also good as the man depended
on by so many he reaches the breaking point.
The effects are well-crafted, with the water constantly advancing, as
inches turn to feet and then to tens of feet. As it approaches the tops
of telephone poles, power lines are inundated, transformers begin to blow,
and houses separate from their foundations. All this, to Salomon's credit,
makes for a heightened sense of the desperation felt by the characters.
I'm not usually a fan of action/adventure movies, because they seem to consistently lack real characterization and plot. But this is one of the best I've seen lately, because it has plenty of both. ****
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