' ' Cinema Romantico: The Hurricane Heist

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Hurricane Heist

(Reader’s Note: “The Hurricane Heist” was so visually unappealing we have foregone including stills with this review. They are all awful.)

There are two moments in “The Hurricane Heist” when reality wonderfully intrudes. These occur when circumstantial allies Casey Corbyn (Maggie Grace), US Treasury Agent, and Will Rutledge (Toby Kebbell), meteorological ace, in the midst of trying to fend off a US Mint robbery, stop to pee, and then later when they pause for peanut butter and jelly. Rest breaks and protein injections suggest a gleam in director Rob Cohen’s eye, gleefully giving time to actual physical concerns a movie with a title like “The Hurricane Heist” would normally ignore. Alas, this is about as much fun as the movie ever allows itself, never reveling in its character archetypes like a Roland Emmerich joint might while mostly forgoing thinking outside the action box to just re-heat leftovers from so many movies before it. When you plant a set-up in the first two minutes involving a football hook & ladder and don’t find a way to literally engineer it during your climactic tri-semi truck chase, really, what good are you?

Maggie Grace, bless her heart, tries to have fun as she credibly guffaws at the bad jokes her character tells or is made to endure, or as her character takes the wheel of her flatbed truck carrying $600 million in cash that needs to be removed from circulation and plows through tobacco fields to avoid the traffic trying to evacuate coastal Gulfport, Alabama on the account of an approaching Category 5 hurricane. This move is meant to demonstrate Casey’s dogged ingenuity that will so frustrate her gruff partner Perkins (Ralph Ineson) when he turns coat to steal the cash they are carrying. That’s a spoiler, perhaps, but it happens very early in the proceedings. Plus, double crosses, and even half a triple cross, abound, and you will find yourself wishing that villainous hacker Sasha (Melissa Bolona), dressed like she’s going to the club rather than the center of a CAT5, was the chief villain anyway since she at least breaks the bad guy mold. Casey, as fate would have it, winds up off the premises when things go wrong and in the company of Will, and eventually his brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten), the trio forming a makeshift resistance.

The hurricane effects do not inspire awe. Jan de Bont’s decades-old “Twister” contained some dull computer generated tornadoes not unlike Cohen’s computer-generated hurricane, but de Bont mixed his with real images of fabulously threatening black and green and purple Midwestern skies. Cohen has no such desire, making you wish he’d add some sharks to all that violent wind for a little variety. He drenches everything in a dismal grey, and I mean everything. If that makes sense in the pouring rain, even inside the US Mint all green of the cash is washed out, not to mention the green of Sasha’s cocktail dress. Even during the eye of the storm climax when the sun comes out, the film barely brightens, unintentionally underscoring its sleepiness despite so much noise. Noise is also a product of the action scenes, where lots of bullets are fired in the rain, while the aforementioned semi truck chase down an endless freeway is repetitive and as short on practical effects as the hurricane.

The thieves, meanwhile, are short on motivation, though writers Jeff Dixon and Scott Windhauser dangle a couple tantalizing southern Robin Hood threads they oddly have no real intention of exploring, rendering all of Cohen’s artfully placed American flags in the background as nothing more than a kind of patriotic product placement. If anything, because of Casey’s virtually non-existent backstory, all this red, white and blue might have spoken to her staring down these robbers as a sense of simple duty, though this is more inferred than conveyed. No, the intended emotional through-line here is that of Will and Breeze, evinced in the movie’s opening scene, one in which the adolescent brothers are forced to watch their father die in Hurricane Andrew, a scene that literalizes something like a groaning skull in the clouds, suggesting, I guess, mother nature as the grim reaper, though this plays less philosophical than like an inadvertent punchline.

This traumatic event spurs Breeze to become a heavy drinker and Will to become a weatherman in the hopes of fighting back against hurricanes. That plot point also evokes “Twister” and its characters’ desire to develop better warning signs for tornadoes, and there are further hints of “The Day After Tomorrow” as Will is allowed one speech about the hell Earth inflicts on its own climate. But as soon as Will mentions climate science, “The Hurricane Heist” drops it. It’s a real missed opportunity. After all, at a crucial moment late in the proceedings, when Breeze reveals his hidden home armory to help in the heist prevention while proudly citing his Alabama residency, you can practically hear liberals groan, not unlike how I heard (literally!) an audience member at my screening yawn when Will mentions climate change to Casey.

“The Hurricane Heist”, of all movies, teases merging blue state priorities with red ones, only to quickly let its glimmer of bipartisanship fly away in the wind.


Alex Withrow said...

Man, bless you for sitting through this and taking the time to carve out a review. The previews looked So. Bad. and I thought it was hilarious that you couldn't bring yourself to include a still image from the film.

Nick Prigge said...

Ha, thank you, my friend! I was happy to do it. Well, mostly. One aside...this was the first movie I can remember in a long, long, long time where I briefly left in the middle to use the bathroom. Typically, no matter what, I will wait, even if it brings great pain. This time I thought, "Really, what am I going to miss?"