A film review by Craig J. Koban June 20, 2018

THE HURRICANE HEIST  j

2018, PG-13, 103 mins.

 

Toby Kebbell as Will  /  Maggie Grace as Casey  /  Ryan Kwanten as Breeze  /  Ralph Ineson as Perkins

Directed by Rob Cohen  /  Written by Carlos Davis and Anthony Fingleton

 

 

The hilariously named THE HURRICANE HEIST most definitely contains - ahem! - a heist and a hurricane, so in terms of advertised promises this action thriller wholeheartedly delivers.  

It's also a spectacularly stupid movie, but one that regrettably never harnesses its silliness like a badge of honor, nor does it really even engage in any self-referential winking to the audience that it knows what kind of film it is.  With the would-be jarring and awe-inspiring natural spectacle of a TWISTER crossed with a crime thriller, but containing dialogue and performances on a level of what you'd find in a typical SNARKNADO entry, THE HURRICANE HEIST is annoyingly noisy, vapid, and lacking in any real reason to exist.  Hell, it never even attains the modest moniker of so bad, it's good

Maybe that's the real problem with this movie: it's not dumb enough in the right ways.  To be fair, the premise on paper has some kernel of interest to me and, with the right director, cast, and execution could have been a fun-filled campy romp.  The notion of staging a heist action film against the constant backdrop of torrential rain and near 200 mph winds - outside of garnering incredulous reactions from many scientists and meteorologists in attendance - has its schlocky, B-grade appeal, but director Rob Cohen (no stranger to preposterous action spectacles, having previously helmed the very first FAST AND FURIOUS film and xXx) lazily crafts a film that's nothing more than a series of set-pieces in desperate search for an overall plot.  We get lots of shootouts, lots of chases, and, of course, lots and lots of rain and wind here, but so much of the stakes in THE HURRICANE HEIST are dramatically inert; very few recent films have inspired such limitless boredom and chronic watch checking a mere twenty minutes in as much as this one. 

 

 

The movie opens with a vignette set in 1992 that documents two Alabama brothers, Will and Breeze (not making that last name up), as they attempt to escape the destructive power of Hurricane Andrew with their father in a pickup truck.  Predictably, only the two boys manage to make it out of their dicey situation alive, leaving their poor old papa being killed right before their eyes...by being crushed by a water tower that blew in via Andrew's wraith (it's a sequence that's designed to inspire shock, awe, and tug at our heartstrings, but comes off as unintentionally comical, especially when one of the boys sees a skull form in one of the storm clouds in one of the film's many WTF? moments).  Flashforward two decades later and Will (Toby Kebbell, a fine actor that just happens to be sporting the most beyond-obviously fake Alabama accent I've heard) has gone on to become a brilliant meteorologist that traverses around in his Batmobile-like reinforced vehicle, chasing and studying storms.  He's nevertheless and oddly still frightened of the storms he hunts, mostly because of his past trauma with his dad.  His brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten), on the other hand, has become drunk while tending after his dad's towing business, feeling responsible for his death years earlier. 

Now, this movie wouldn't be called THE HURRICANE HEIST if it didn't contain a bank robbery and storm, and - wouldn't ya know it? - a new Andrew wannabe emerges - dubbed "Tammy" - that looks like it could be as devastating as its dangerous predecessor.  Concurrent to the hurricane raging on is nefarious plot perpetrated by a group of crooks that are looking to steal $600 million in old currency that's set for destruction at a nearby U.S Treasury facility (this bares more than a striking resemblance to the robber's scheme in this year's DEN OF THIEVES).  Of course, it stands to reason that plotting a massive robbery like this during a devastating storm would be the height of criminal idiocy, by the mastermind behind the plan, Perkins (Ralph Ineson), is actually using the storm to his tactical advantage...as he envisioned from the get-go.  In comes Federal Agent Casey (a miscast Maggie Grace), who not only wishes to thwart Perkins' plan, but also has vital Intel that would prove valuable to him if she were captured that could make his heist successful.  Now, if only Casey had a meteologist with a souped up and nearly impenetrable vehicle to team-up with? 

THE HURRICANE HEIST contains so many absurd and frankly inane elements that I grew dizzy just trying to mentally catalogue them all while watching it.  Contrivances pile up in head smacking ways throughout, like how the plot serves up not one, but two double crossing traitor reveals that the writers think is twistedly ingenuous, but can actually be spotted from a proverbial mile away.  As soon as these characters are introduced in the film it's woefully telegraphed where their allegiances truly lie.  One of my favorite knee-slappingly amusing moments comes when two characters save themselves from the might of the storm at its peak...by tethering themselves down.  Now, their bodies get sucked up into the eye of the storm and should have been torn in half with the combined tension of the tethers and the winds, but in the fantasyland that is this movie they come back down to earth unscathed, but very wet. 

Stilted performances and the woodiest dialogue exchanges peppered throughout don't help matters either, and many actors (like Kebbell, as already mentioned) are forced to unconvincingly enunciate cookie cutter lines with uneven regional specific accents that inspire an awful lot of groans (Kebbell is a very decent performer when given the right material, but his ultra thick Southern drawl is amusingly broad).  I guess one could easily claim that visual effects and overall eye popping weather related action mayhem could be the only thing that could save THE HURRICANE HEIST from all out wretchedness, but many of the CG-enhanced shots of the storm bracing down on the characters feel several steps away from final completion; more often than not, too many scenes here show the film's somewhat limited $35 million budget.  That, and Cohen never crafts action sequences of cohesion, mostly because a majority of them take place during howling winds and thick buckets of rain, rendering spatial relationships and geography hard to comprehend at times.  I will concede, though, that this is probably a limitation of setting the entirety of your film in unimaginable rainfall purring down on the actors. 

The only time that THE HURRICANE HEIST generates any type of suspenseful momentum occurs during its final act, which has a climatic chase sequence involving the heroes and villains commandeering big rigs as they try to outrace the gargantuan storm that's careening down on them on a highway.  Moments like this have a deliriously silly vibe that's kind of infectious, but they are in such lamentably short supply in THE HURRICANE HEIST, ostensibly because the resulting and overall film is so incoherently dopey that it never has fun at its own cockamamie expense.  It also chiefly shows, yet again, that Cohen has never capitalized on the promise of that first FAST AND FURIOUS film nearly twenty years ago, as he's spent most of the subsequent years wallowing in one terrible film after another like STEALTH, THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, and THE BOY NEXT DOOR, all films that wasted his talent and those in front of the camera as well.  You can now add THE HURRICANE HEIST to this dubious wall of shame list, a natural disaster based thriller that makes last year's GEOSTORM look as scientifically accurate as INTERSTELLAR by direct comparison.  

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