The Hurricane Heist and all the images you see in this review are owned by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Rob Cohen
You know… I get that everyone wants to recreate the lightening in a bottle success that has been The Fast and the Furious series, but how often does chasing a trend like that ACTUALLY work? Heck, DC can’t even follow in Marvel’s footsteps correctly, and they already have a stable of characters just as popular! Getting the director of the original film and touting it as if he has had anything to do with the success of the modern entries in the series seems like just the kind of half-baked and producer driven endeavors to jump on the bandwagon that you’d hope that big studios would be smart enough to avoid, and yet here we are! Still, just because the circumstances surrounding the film are less than ideal doesn’t necessarily mean that the film itself will be bad! A movie about a heist during bad weather could STILL be good… right? Maybe? Okay, probably not, but let’s find out!!
The movie begins on the day of a SUPER Hurricane that’s gonna hit a small town in Alabama where SUPER METEOROLOGIST Will (Toby Kebbell) is getting a bad feeling about this storm and is trying to convince Washington to send out the National Guard. I mean… I’m not sure why considering the town has already been evacuated and it would only put those service men in danger to have them awkwardly stand around an empty town while it gets rampaged by a super storm, but considering what’s about to happen elsewhere in the city it might have proven to be a good idea. You see, the small town is ALSO home to US mint facility where they take old bills out of circulation and then shred them. The delivery people this time around are Casey and Perkins (Maggie Grace and Ralph Ineson) who have trucks full of the crappy bills and they REALLY need to get a move on if they want to deliver them and get them shredded before the storm hits. However, it’s all one big set up! See, Perkins along with two sexy hackers (Melissa Bolona and Ed Birch) sabotage the security within the facility so that a truck full of MORE bandits (Jamie Andrew Cutler, Jimmy Walker, and Moyo Akandé) can smash through the gate, take out ALL the soldiers patrolling the area, and lock them in the basement while they get the vault door unlocked and rob the treasury blind of dollar bills that were set to be shredded anyway. Of course, they weren’t counting on Casey who JUST SO HAPPENED to be away from the facility at the time and had changed the password to the vault right before she did so. She went off to find Will’s brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) to who is a mechanic I think and she needed him to fix something for her, but needless to say that the reception upon her return is less than stellar and she barely manages to escape in the process. Breeze however is much less lucky and HE gets caught by the baddies which prompts will to join forces with Casey to take down the bad guys and save all the hostages; all while the storm of the century rages on around them! Can Will and Casey save this soon to be destroyed money, even if it means killing all the crooks in the process? Will they be able to fight off the savage wind and rain from the hurricane long enough to kill a bunch of thieves for trying to steal money that was going to be destroyed anyway? Is it just me, or is there a BIT too much bloodshed in a movie where the only bad outcome is whether or not money gets stolen; especially when the bad guys can retaliate at ANY time by killing the hostages? At least in Die Hard, Hans Grubber was planning to kill the hostages anyway!
I’m not one who is opposed to over the top or ludicrous action movies. If I was, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last few The Fast and the Furious movies and I wouldn’t have Face/Off as one of my favorite movies of all time. If you can make something that’s goofy and over the top while also nailing the action set pieces, I can usually find something to like about your film! This movie comes REALLY close to that as the idea is at least unique and it has some creative action moments throughout… but the whole thing has this really unpleasant attitude about it that just kept taking me out of the movie and made it that much harder for me to enjoy the damn thing even when it managed to do something right. It’s not London Has Fallen bad (then again, what is?), but it feels needlessly jingoistic and surprisingly tone oblivious throughout which is not helping this movie that can only manage to be slightly above mediocre. It’s not even something OBVIOUSLY mean spirited or wrong the same way that London Has Fallen just revels in its own toxic beliefs and cruel imagery; it’s the kind of thing that indicates a lack of self-awareness on the part of the filmmakers who were either totally ignorant about what they were making or were trying to be very subtle about its shitty attitudes. Either way, what we’re left with is a movie that isn’t TERRIBLE but would have been much better if it had been in more capable (and self-aware) hands.
What this movie manages to get right is a general sense of slickly produced and over the top fun that, while can’t hold a candle to what the Fast and the Furious series has accomplished, is still within the same vein as that. This isn’t just a bunch of desperate thugs looting business during an extreme weather event; these dudes are decked out with BAD GUY outfits (all black leather), tranquilizer guns that don’t work anything at all like a tranquilizer gun would in real life, two sexy hackers with tattoos and European accents, and they’re all brought together to attack a super high tech Federal Mint building with advanced security features that have cool graphics and shit! It’s an absolute farce to watch which does a decent job of setting the tone for the rest of the movie, and the first act is probably the most enjoyable part of the entire film because of it. The big gimmick itself I think works pretty well too, even if it is a TAD bit uncomfortable to be using a hurricane as the setting for a cheesy action film when at least a third of Puerto Rico is still without power (apparently the Nation Weather Service can afford to give Toby Kebbell a super car, but FEMA can’t be bothered to give sustained relief to American citizens), but there have been disaster movies since the dawn of cinema and I think it helps that it’s clearly THE BAD GUYS taking advantage of the potentially life threatening weather event instead of the heroes which I THOUGHT was the case going into this. See, I thought it was gonna be an Ocean’s Eleven or Fast and Furious style film where the good guys are the thieves fighting against the system which would have made the whole LET’S ROB SOMETHING DURING A HURRICANE thing come off like an endorsement from the movie (these guys are SO CLEVER to think of that!) which would have made the framing of the story that much more uncomfortable. As it is, it’s still probably a bit TOO light for the subject matter, at least for it to be released right now, but it provided for some interesting ideas and rather unique set piece moments.
Now where does the film falter? Well… it’s kind of like when they to revive xXx by making The Return of Xander Cage. Everyone involved must have thought that they had the secret formula down pat for an over the top action movie by virtue of The Fast and the Furious movies turning into such big hits, but while the end result was lacking in SO many areas, it’s biggest problem was the tone. It was cocky, brazen, and downright sexist at points which betrayed the artifice with which it was copying someone else’s formula, and that’s the problem here. It’s trying to be The Fast and the Furious crossed with a Roland Emmerich film, but it’s coming from a worldview that’s almost incompatible with the goofy charm that we usually get from those movies. Where Independence Day was patriotic in a rather agnostic way (still problematic to an extent but not specific enough to start to sound exclusionary), this movie is about SOUTHERN PRIDE and all the baggage that usually comes with that outlook. Not necessarily in OVERT ways, but you start to pick up on problems right away and eventually can’t stop pointing out the instances of Toxic Masculinity, bad representation and lack of diversity, the othering of pretty much ANYONE that isn’t a White American, and it just goes on and on with things that poke you in the head while trying to enjoy the utter absurdity of gunfights in heavy rain and someone using hubcaps as deadly weapons. In the ENTIRE cast, there are exactly two women of color, who are both bad guys, and the black woman gets a SINGLE line before getting killed off at about the thirty minute mark. In fact, from my count there is only one other person of color with a speaking role in here and they’re ALSO a bad guy as well who doesn’t make it to the end of the movie! Heck, the OTHERING goes even further than that because everyone WITH AN ACCENT is a bad guy too even if they’re white! All of the good guys in this can pretty much be pegged as Southern Good Ol’ Boys which includes Maggie Grace who acts like ONE OF THE GUYSTM which translates into indulging in behaviors often associated with Toxic Masculinity like being destructive and always looking to be dominate in a situation. In fact, one of the first things we see her do is to smash someone else’s car because it’s in the way and doesn’t even stop to exchange insurance information! Yeah, I’m bringing up insurance information in this because what she did isn’t “tough” or “cool” or “badass”; its’ just being an asshole which the movie is trying to sell as endearing and is anything but.
There are plenty of other things I can point to (there’s a scene that VERY specifically takes place next to a “war monument” and you can probably guess which war it is), but even if you ignore the obnoxiously toxic attitudes that ham string this movie, it’s still not a particularly GREAT example of what it’s trying to be. Honestly, the movie ends up peaking by the halfway point and just kind of spins its wheels for the rest of its running time with barely a semblance of direction or flow. At one point the filmmakers are so desperate to get the characters to just DO something that they float the idea of making a bomb, and then that subplot is dropped five minutes later in a manner that is absolutely jarring to watch on screen. And yeah, as I indicated before, the stakes are just not there for this movie and I just couldn’t get behind the noble endeavor of risking lots of people’s lives on stopping a bunch of thieves from getting money. It’s just freaking money! I have no interest in whether or not these people get their ill-gotten gains and it makes the scenes where the bad guys are brutally murdered feel rather anti-climactic and a little bit unpalatable. You could argue I guess that the hostages are always in danger no matter what the bad guys say, but if that’s what we’re supposed to take away, then why does the film spend absolutely no time with the hostages or have a scene where a bad guy goes that extra step and actually shoots someone in the head to prove a point? Something LIKE that happens towards the end which I won’t spoil here, but it feels so perfunctory at the point as we’re already well into the third act, and the REST of the hostages are completely forgotten by that point as we’re given no closure to THEIR story, so excuse me for not taking the bad guys as a serious threat worth shooting in the face over giving them the password when the only justification we’re given for a good eighty percent of the movie is that they want to steal money. For an action film THIS ludicrous and over the top, it needed the villains to be similarly arch in order to sell us on their villainy, but the movie is so wishy washy about it that it ends up sucking any sense of tension out of the film which only makes things drag that much more slowly and leaves the whole thing feeling way more lifeless than it should.
This is a pretty bad film, but I pretty much knew that going into it. What I wasn’t expecting was that it would simultaneously be better than I was expecting and also way more disappointing than it should be because we can SEE how much better it should have been but it ends up being just as bad as we expected. That glimmer of hope, like the eye of a hurricane, is nothing but one big bait and switch to convince things are going to be THAT bad before it hammers you with an onslaught of rain, high winds, and jokes that aren’t very funny. I wouldn’t really recommend seeing this in a theater even if the special effects and the set pieces look nice enough considering how uneven the rest of the film is and how much I ended up souring on the film as it went along. It might be worth checking out when it gets a home release (and by “checking out” I mean “laugh at for being so silly”), but you really don’t need to bother leaving the house to see this. Heck, it might be the perfect Rainy Day movie, provided said Rainy Day isn’t as bad as the one in the film.