Thirst (1998) starring Adam Arkin, Joely Fisher, Giancarlo Esposito, Ken Jenkins, Phyllis Lyons, Michael Cudlitz, Jimmy Galeota, Casey Biggs directed by Bill L. Norton Movie Review

Thirst (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Adam Arkin as Bob Miller in Thirst (1998)

A Little Bit of Refreshment

As a rule disaster movies that are for TV generally draw on big budget movies for their inspiration and I suppose if you go on that rule then "Thirst" could be seen as being inspired by "Outbreak". But the thing about "Thirst" is that I wouldn't call it a real disaster movie, oh we have a storyline about a city's water supply being contaminated with a deadly virus putting every one at a risk, but this isn't all about over the top action. In stead "Thirst" is more of a thriller as to whether a solution will be found in time. I suppose the real reason why "Thirst" doesn't feel like a disaster movie is that it bucks the trend and doesn't follow the usual formula set out by many disaster movies. As such whilst "Thirst" is not a great movie it is entertaining for trying to do things a little differently.

Having discovered the funding on a new water treatment plant has been cut, specialist engineer Bob Miller (Adam Arkin - Halloween H20) is facing unemployment. But as people start turning up at hospital, dying from thirst it seems his expertise is needed as they discover the city of San Paulo's water supply has been contaminated and the Mayor needs him to try and find a solution.

Joely Fisher as Susan Miller in Thirst (1998)

Now anyone who has watched a few disaster movies know that usually for the first 20 minutes or so you get to meet a group of people where some will live and some will die. Well "Thirst" doesn't do that, we meet Bob and his family and become aware that there is an imminent issue as a few old people die on hospital but we don't get a lot of characters where some die. It certainly makes it a far more interesting opening which then quickly gets to the actual problem and that is the discovery of a deadly bacteria in the town's water supply.

What follows on from there is a bit more routine as we have Bob desperately trying to work out how the bacteria is getting into the water but also how to stop it. And being more routine we get are Mr. Evil, as in the town's money grabbing mayor who is basically a rat who we can boo and hiss at. In the midst of all this routine is a good story especially as a few twists lead to at one point Bob being a possible reason for the deadly bacteria being in the water. But what stands out are the scenes of visual impact as the city is quarantined and we have military being swamped by people as they hand out water. It does a reasonable job of getting across the panic and anger of a situation when something as basic as water is removed from people's lives.

Of course we have the battle to come up with a way of preventing this bacteria getting through and I am no scientist or expert but the theories thrown forwards seem kind of reasonable. In fact the whole exploring of water filtration as sand and charcoal filters as well as other things are mentioned does sound real. How they go about this is where the problem lies because the big finale starts seriously over the top as Bob comes up with a dramatic solution but yet the actual ending is a damp cheesy sandwich.

As such whilst "Thirst" has some good ideas the actual presentation of them sadly lets things down and the quickness of the way the story moves means you have no time to think about things. The good news is that the actual performances are fine; Alan Arkin, Joely Fisher and Giancarlo Esposito deliver solid performances as basically are heroes or at least the good guys. Plus Ken Jenkins is good as old time city water engineer who is used to the old ways.

What this all boils down to is that "Thirst" is basically a disaster movie but one which does things a bit differently. And because of those little differences it is entertaining only really let down by a rather ramp ending.