More of a Ripple than a Wave
When it comes to movies I have a perverse side because I like bad movies, not big budget bad movies but bad made for TV movies. You see something like "Tidal Wave: No Escape" appear on the schedule and with a plot which mentions scientists trying to stop a killer tidal wave you no it's going to be bad. You know the storyline will be bad for being far fetched, the special effects will be poor and the characters nothing more than flat stereotypes but you also know that for everything which makes you groan it will also make you laugh. As such you don't watch "Tidal Wave: No Escape" because it looks an exciting disaster movie but because it will end up being amusing.
When two giant waves cause devastation one after the other the NSA bring together their top scientist and former scientist John Wahl (Corbin Bernsen - Ordinary Miracles) to try and work out how this could be happening. But a personal issue between Wahl and head of the team Edgar Purcell (Gregg Henry) causes tension and also causes Wahl to become the prime suspect as they believe these waves are being created by someone. Forced to go on the run and try and clear his name by discovering how these waves are being caused and by whom, Wahl finds a friend in scientist Jessica Weaver (Julianne Phillips) who despite disliking his laid back attitude believes that he is innocent.
With the title "Tidal Wave: No Escape" this sounds like a disaster movie but to be honest it isn't. We have the damage and threat of giant tidal waves but this is really a thriller because the real story is that there is an evil genius who is creating these giant waves and so what we have are a couple of scientists trying to discover who it is and stop them before they launch their big one. Throw in the fact that these two scientists are forced to go on the run, accused by the head of the NSA for being behind these catastrophes and it is very much an innocent man having to prove their innocence storyline. And just for good measure throw in a touch of romance and personal issues to add further conflict.
As such "Tidal Wave: No Escape" is not only a rather ordinary and predictable story but also a cheesy one. It is cheesy partly because we have a collection of stereotypical characters and relationships but also because it is far fetched. As we follow Wahl and Weaver as they try and prove who is creating these tidal waves the explanations get more outrageous, the reasons become more contrived and the actual disaster caused by the waves which gives the movie some moments of action are all over the top. Throw in some typically dodgy TV movie special effects especially when it comes to the big waves and big climax and you end up with a movie which makes you laugh every time you groan.
You end up feeling sorry for the cast especially Corbin Bernsen and Julianne Phillips because quite frankly they only have tosh to work with. Terrible dialogue, techno mumbo jumbo, weak back stories and a less than surprising subplot which makes their characters weak and no matter how hard they try they can't make them real. Then again they make their characters more believable and interesting than the rest of the cast which includes Gregg Henry and Harve Presnell.
What this all boils down to is that if you like bad TV movies then you will enjoy "Tidal Wave: No Escape" because it is simply bad. It is basically entertaining for all the wrong reasons from the outrageous story to the dodgy special effects.