THE HURRICANE HEIST
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
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?
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
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.