Idiocy at 150 mph
So Rob Cohen is a name you may not be familiar with, but he’s basically the reason Vin Diesel is a household name as he directed the first entries for both The Fast and the Furious and XXX. But recent years have shown why both franchises left him behind, as he went on to direct medicority after garbage with Stealth and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. But now he’s back with his first action flick in 4 years while his producers proudly mention his glory days from 16 years ago (Christ that’s not a good sign) in a film all about stealing $600 million in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane. Sounds like an impressive story concept…let’s see if Cohen still has the magic.
So we have a team of criminals lead by a bitter U.S. treasury employee named Perkins (Ralph Ineson) embarking on a heist of a U.S. Mint in Alabama to steal over half a billion dollars purposefully as a hurricane is on its way to slam a small coastal town. Their only problem is the code to the vault is in the hands of Treasury agent Casey (Maggie Grace), who manages to escape the robbers with the help of a local mechanic named Breeze (Ryan Kwaten). The mechanic’s younger brother Will (Toby Kebbell) ends up assisting Casey when the criminals take Breeze hostage, and the trio each do their best to sabotage the antagonists’ plans. Helping Will out is his trusty meteorology truck designed to withstand hurricane force winds, as everyone tries to survive the storm of the century.
Now this plot reads like a rejected Fast and Furious script and that’s likely because it probably was before some producers wisely thought it was too dumb too make. No, not because of the premise (Fate of the Furious features a chase from a nuclear submarine for God’s sake), but because the screenplay was such a bore to get through. Yeah with such a colorful idea, you’d think the people involved would be just as wild and crazy as the situation they’re in; but one of the main reasons this movie feels like a chore to get through is that there’s absolutely no punch to a single line of dialogue. No witty comebacks, no groan worthy puns, and not even that much swearing either. It’s like a middle manager wrote an action movie immediately after watching some Liam Neeson joint and forgot they had to write decent characters for us to give a damn about in the middle of an elaborately set up scenario.
As I’ve stated multiple times, the only reason I give a damn about an action movies is because I either like the characters or I’m curious to see where their bizarre journey will lead them. While Cohen fails to inject a single one of his characters with a shred of personality, we fortunately have a decent cast of actors who actually cared about what their names were going to be attached to and did their best regardless. So, we have some pretty charismatic performances from your three leads in Grace, Kebbell and Kwaten; while Ineson is on hand to scowl for a bit and he’s flanked on all sides by various different cronies who do just enough to help differentiate themselves so you’re not wondering who’s who. Speaking of which, it would have been nice if the same could have been said about the hurricane scenes.
Half the time, it’s hard to make out which character is which when they’re all drenched in the pouring rain wearing muted colors and driving nondescript vehicles. I could really only pinpoint Kebbell’s character in most scenes considering that he’s wearing a bright orange jacket for most of the run time, so he’s easy to make out. But as the hurricane hits at night, with gray clouds on all sides, it feels about as much fun as looking out from your own window during a thunderstorm. But when the camera pulls back and shows you some devastation caused by the hurricane, it looks pretty decent the other half of the time. I mean, compared to Geostorm which promised spectacular natural disasters only to fizzle out with a tiny demo reel, The Hurricane Heist‘s budget was at least well spent to make being in a hurricane look cool. Even if there was one scene in the beginning where the clouds form a friggin human skull to torment some of our protagonists…because apparently Rob Cohen thought he was making a Saturday Morning Cartoon show. But a weird angle that does hurt the movie is that you’re mostly watching this chaos while the movie curiously dials down on the threat to real people.
The town where most of the action takes place is completely evacuated save for our heroes and the robbers, so human collateral damage by the hurricane is nonexistent. Even the robbers themselves only kill one person in the entire movie. “But wait,” you must wonder, “surely the robbers killed all the armed guards at the U.S. Mint or were they conveniently evacuated as well?” That’s the strange thing, the robbery begins with an assault by four robbers using tranquilizer rifles to incapacitate over a dozen soldiers guarding the vault with all the money…and they successfully take over the whole joint without any bloodshed.
On one hand, that’s a pretty logical thing to do and thereby avoiding Die Hard conundrum of creating a worse crime to cover up a less bad offense. But on the other, it also makes your antagonist less of a menacing threat and therefore the audience is less inclined to see him get taken out. Now, perhaps Cohen intended to give his villain a bit more pathos, a la his greatest creation in Dominic Toretto, but sadly Ralph Ineson isn’t nearly as charismatic as Vin Diesel (good Lord, I never thought I’d say that) and his character just isn’t even remotely interesting enough that you want to see his plan come to fruition.
Honestly, had the film given a bit more fleshed out or sympathetic writing to Ineson’s character, maybe it would have made the character dynamics a bit more enjoyable with actual stakes between two groups of characters. And while I’m making my wish list, maybe our protagonists could have been given a bit more dimension outside of “I saw someone I love die right in front of me and that’s why I’m jaded about…things,” to delve some deeper hooks into our interest. Or maybe Cohen could have hired a much better or more experienced screenwriters than one guy who’s sole other script credit is for a fitness video game (seriously) and another guy who’s sole output is direct-to-DVD affair. Actually, Netflix is a perfect venue for this kind of film (especially in the state they’re in for movies). Found a little bit to like in this movie, actually it’s better than other drab action affairs this month, so I’ll give this a decent enough…
Like what you see? Don’t forget to like this post and subscribe to The After Lobby! The reviews are also supported through Patreon! Click the link below to find out more!