Geostorm is a political/thriller/science fiction action film disguised as a disaster movie; the marketing of this film is clearly hoping to get fans of such films as The Day After Tomorrow and San Andreas , but even though this film does contain moments of massive destruction, as nature runs amok, this movie is more about Gerard “Action Star” Butler running around a space station while his idiot friends scramble from location to location in an attempt to uncover a major conspiracy that could end the world as we know it. If that premise seems at odds with what the trailer showed you welcome to the world of “Bait and Switch” as Geostorm has more in common with the James Bond film Moonraker than it does with any disaster film.
The film begins with narration explaining how the world was reaching the end of days due to global warming and extreme weather until brilliant scientists Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) developed a weather satellite system called “Dutch Boy” that could control climate on a global scale, but unfortunately bureaucratic assholes like Senator Cross (Richard Schiff) don’t like Jake’s straight shooting attitude and he is fired by his younger brother Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess) who works under Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom (Ed Harris), a character who practically screams “I’m the real villain” the moment he appears on screen. Three years later we find Jake living in a trailer near Cape Canaveral with his precocious little girl Hannah (Talitha Eliana Bateman), the cute and smart daughter/son are almost a requirement in these type of films, and they are visited by Max who informs Jake that something has gone terribly wrong with Dutch Boy.
President Andrew Palma (Andy Garcia) wants Dutch Boy fixed before its official handover to the international community, which is to take place in a few months, and thus Jake is pulled out of retirement, launched into space, and thrown into an investigation that quickly starts to look more like sabotage than it does a mechanical malfunction. Meanwhile on the ground Max gets help from his friend Dana (Zazie Beetz), a Department of Defense hacker and not the love interest, and the two of them uncover a mysterious plan called “Project Zeus” which is a program meant for simulating extreme weather patterns in an effort to create something called a Geostorm.
Could there be nefarious parties secretly working to turn Dutch Boy into some kind of super weapon? Of course there are, and this leads to sinister agents eliminating any one who could be a threat to Project Zeus, and by this I mean over-elaborate murders and insanely silly car chases fill up way too much of this film’s screen time. Lucky for us Max is secretly dating a Secret Service agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish) who is on the President’s personal detail and she is able to grant the White House access, and sadly she is this movie’s love interest and it is terribly lame. Seriously, this film spends an inordinate amount of screen time on a stupid subplot about their “illicit relationship” that literally has nothing to do with anything.
When we are not dealing with unfunny rom-com moments earthside, with the two blandest people on the planet, the movie will subject us to Gerard Butler running around a space station as he tries to uncover the saboteur and remove the virus that has turned his baby into the Death Star. He is teamed up with Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara), the International Space Station’s current commander, and we can only thank our lucky stars the film doesn’t have enough time to turn this dynamic into another painful love subplot. In the short time spent on the space station we come to the conclusion that Jake Lawson is a cross between James Bond and The Terminator as he survives several attempts on his life that would have killed any normal man. So while Jake is fighting for his life Dutch Boy is targeting cities across the globe as it works its way up to the “Geostorm” event, and the clock is ticking, and I mean literally as the movie ends with Jake racing a countdown to the end of the world.
Now earlier Max’s friend and whistle blower Cheng Long (Daniel Wu) informed him that if these “malfunctions” continue the world will suffer from “Geostorm” an unstoppable chain reaction of extreme weather patterns globally and simultaneously, yet when Jake *spoiler warning* is able to take Dutch Boy offline, with mere seconds to spare, the disastrous weather events stop almost instantly. THAT IS NOT HOW WEATHER WORKS! Now one doesn’t expect to see accurate science in movies of this nature but there is a fine line between the ridiculous science of something like The Day After Tomorrow and the insulting nonsense we are subjected to in Geostorm.
This is Dean Devlin’s first time in the director’s chair, having produced such successful films as Stargate and Independence Day, and it’s clear he doesn’t know what he’s doing in this position. He’s even credited as one of the writers so he can’t even hide behind its failure because of bad source material. The plot of Geostorm is ludicrous, the characters barely qualify as two dimensional stock types, and the disaster stuff that everyone had paid to see isn’t all that jaw dropping. I’m not saying the CGI wasn’t top notch it’s just that none of it pacts any emotional weight, there is no sense of awe or gravitas when these occasional moments (and I do mean occasional as they only really pop in just to keep the audience from falling asleep) do show up its all sound and fury signifying nothing. Save your money and watch a Sharknado movie on Netflix at least there you expect to get cartoon characters and cheesy dialog.
• The man who invented the satellite system that saved the world is reduced to living in a trailer? You’d think he’d be able to afford at least a little cabin near Cape Canaveral.
• When Jake arrives at the International Space Station none of the department heads recognize him. Didn’t he save the fucking world three years ago, wouldn’t his face been on Time Magazine at least once or twice? And aren’t those idiots working inside a facility he designed and helped build?
• Once again we are treated to people trying to out run the cold. It was dumb in The Day After Tomorrow and even dumber here.
• And exactly why must Sarah keep her relationship with Max a secret? Is there some law that states Secret Service agents can’t date?
• The villain targets the city he is currently visiting, barely making it out before lightning blows up the building he just exited, is that not really bad planning?
I’m a disaster movie junkie and I don’t expect Shakespearean plotting or nuanced characters in these types of films, but Geostorm tries to sell a science fiction political thriller as a disaster movie and it not only fails to succeed in that category but in all the other categories as well.