DC Down (2023) Review
In the opening minutes of DC Down Washington DC is hit by an earthquake that, among other things, causes the roof of The White House to collapse trapping President Powell (Sean Young, Planet Dune, Blade Runner) and Vice President Jameson (Daphne O’Neal, Reaptown, Aisle Be Home for Christmas) inside.
Lance Cushing (Jack Pearson, Jungle Run, Ape vs. Mecha Ape) a former combat engineer and search and rescue expert is called in to help get them out. He brings his fiance Katherine (Kayla Fields, Who Is Killing the Cheerleaders?, The Ugly Christmas Sweater) who is a seismologist along. It’s a good thing he did because it looks like there’s going to be some massive aftershocks, but her so far unproven “Dispersal Theory” might be able to protect what’s left of The White House from them.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Wilder (Eric Roberts, Hitmen, 7 Deadly Sins) has been sworn in as acting President, and a militia group, The Virginia Lookout, led by Beck (Geoff Meed, Fast Five, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch) are heading to DC.
Since DC Down was made by The Asylum for Tubi you know not to expect epic scenes of destruction, and apart from a few CGI shots of DC landmarks cracking and crumbling the film’s first half hour is mostly talk. Geoff Meed, who also wrote and directed as well as playing Beck, has a long string of credits with The Asylum including writing another earthshaking film San Andreas Mega Quake.
Unfortunately, he sticks to the company’s usual template of a lot of dialogue interrupted by brief shots of damage and even briefer bursts of action. So we get endless chatter between everyone at The White House and the university where Katherine works mixed with stock footage of the DC police and shots of people climbing on piles of rubble.
To be fair some of that talk is to set up the film’s subplot, but with a title like DC Down, you know that it’s going to be an attempt on the President’s life. And it doesn’t require much setting up for the viewer to figure out who is behind it. Worst of all I figured the last half hour would be a game of cat and mouse between Lance and the bad guys in the crumbling building.
This should have been the perfect set up for an Asylum film. Once they established the threat they could have had everyone chasing each other around some interior sets as they tried to kill each other off and get out before the aftershocks hit. Instead, we get a ridiculous side plot involving flooding a subway line and a final confrontation that lasts maybe five minutes and feels like an afterthought.
It’s obvious though that very little thought of any kind went into the making of DC Down. We’re told how the city has been devastated by the quake but repeatedly see scenes of normal traffic flowing past undamaged buildings. I guess they have s different definition of devastation in DC. The CGI for the scenes of devastation we do get while not the worst I’ve seen lately never manages to rise above passable either. They at least have the good sense to avoid loads of fire and explosion effects which almost never look good. Unfortunately, water effects are just as hard to get right and the flooding scenes look anything but convincing.
The Asylum should have been able to pull off a plot like DC Down’s and deliver a decent thriller without much effort. Instead, they managed to find a way to deliver ninety minutes so dull that even Eric Roberts hamming it up can’t bring any life to the proceedings. DC Down should have been put down at the script stage.