I’m a sucker for disaster films, so the idea of blending in a Die Hard style heist with a natural disaster was pretty much catnip to me. Sadly, director Rob Cohen fails on both counts as this movie is neither an exciting disaster flick nor is it a good caper film. With what can be achieved with modern day special effects, even silly disaster films like San Andreas can be fun to watch – no matter how ridiculous or completely implausible things get – but you still need characters to root for, and that is where The Hurricane Heist stumbles the most.
The movie opens with a dad and his two young boys, Will and Breeze, driving through Hurricane Andrew when their truck is driven off the road by a falling tree. The boys are forced to take shelter in a nearby farm house while their father tries to use his truck’s winch to get their vehicle back on the road. If you’ve seen the movie Twister, where the father is killed by the storm – while the two boys watch helplessly on – you will of course not be surprised when the father dies here, too. Even less surprising is the fact that one of the boys grows up to be a meteorologist because apparently according to the great “Movie Laws,” your career choice must stem from some personal tragedy.
Will Rutledge (Toby Kebbell) is one of those “action meteorologist” who drive around in armored vehicles that look like they were borrowed from the disaster film Into the Storm, while on the other hand his brother Breeze Rutledge (Ryan Kwanten) is an ex-Marine who runs a “Tow and Repair” business. We get the standard stuff of Will telling his superiors that the oncoming hurricane is going to be worse than what the predictions are stating – he has one of those magical gut feelings that trumps technology – and of course he is proven right because the hero is always right in these movies. Then we have good ole Breeze – who is more of plot point than a character – and any moment of screen time with him is almost instantly forgotten — he’s just a complete waste of screentime. And what exactly is the plot of The Hurricane Heist? Well if you’ve seen the 1998 action film Hard Rain, you’ve pretty much seen this film. Hard Rain was about an armored car being heisted while it was collecting money from local banks that were in danger of being flooded by a terrible storm; The Hurricane Heist is about crooks using a category 5 hurricane as cover to rob a U.S. treasury facility. As in Hard Rain, two of the key players of The Hurricane Heist are armored car drivers, but the similarities don’t end there.
In this film, we have Casey Corbyn (Maggie Grace), a Treasury agent – who has a tragic back story of her own but one that has no real bearing on the plot so I’m not sure why the writers gave her one at all – and her driving partner Connor Perkins (Ralph Ineson), who turns out to be working with the crooks just as Ed Asner in Hard Rain betrayed his partner played by Christian Slater. But wait, there’s more! When Casey eventually hooks up with our heroic meteorologist, they run to the local sheriff’s office for help only to discover – like in Hard Rain – that the local cops are in on the heist. It’s at this point I suspected that the producers of this film concluded that they wouldn’t be sued for plagiarism because their movie was doomed to flop at the box office and was thus not worth suing over.
Now, ripping off another movie does not necessarily mean a film won’t still be entertaining – a disaster movie is mostly about spectacle and not about originality or tightly woven plots – but where a film like the aforementioned San Andreas had the charismatic Duane “The Rock” Johnson to anchor it, none of the cast members in this film rank above the actors you’d find in an average SyFy original. Not only did I not care about the plight of anybody in this movie – and what plight we get is more boring than suspenseful – I was actively rooting at times for the storm to just kill everybody, but sadly the heroes had more plot armor than a hundred Arnold Schwarzeneggers. I literally lost count of how many times Will and Casey should have died. These two not only heroically fend off numerous armed goons, but somehow stand around – or in one case hang on a tether high up amongst the killer winds and flying debris- with Mother Nature turning the environment into a hellscape — our heroes somehow escape it all without so much as a scratch. Not only is the weather depicted as taking sides in this conflict – villains being sucked away while the heroes who were basically right next to them are spared – but we see people standing in the street while cars are being thrown around like their matchbox miniatures. Just how localized can wind be?
This almost works as comedy – as the absurdity on display is truly staggering – and the scene with meteorologist Will leaping onto the back of a moving transport truck to take on the crooks is particularly laughable; but when it comes to making a disaster film work, the stakes must seem high, yet at no point did I believe our heroes were in the remotest bit of danger. On the heist aspect the story, the movie also drops the ball as the criminal crew consists of unmemorable thugs who pop in and out of the story – to give us a break from watching the CGI wind blowing shit around – and the threat level they provide our heroes is never above minimal.
With the proper amount of alcohol consumed, a viewer may find some level of entertainment out of this film – though to achieve this, alcohol poisoning is a real risk – but as a whole, this is a product that can be skipped by disaster film enthusiasts and heist film fans alike. The Hurricane Heist is simply boring when it’s not being utterly laughable.