Mark Reviews Movies

Hurricane Heist


1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Rob Cohen

Cast: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Christian Contreras, Jamie Andrew Cutler, Ed Birch, Melissa Bolona, Ben Cross, Jimmy Walker, Moyo Akandé

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of gun violence, action, destruction, language and some suggestive material)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 3/9/18

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Review by Mark Dujsik | March 9, 2018

You almost want to give The Hurricane Heist some credit for the absurdity of its premise, which involves a bank robbery happening in the midst of the largest hurricane of the century. Imagine being in the room when they pitched this one to people with the money to finance the movie.

One wonders if they had the idea firmly in place or if the movie was the result of some kind of desperate improvisational session. A writer or two walk into a producer's office and try to sell their story about a group of robbers trying to rip off a U.S. Treasury bank. The producer is tempted but unconvinced. "It needs more," the money man says. Maybe it was raining that day, and one of the writers remembered some disaster movie locked away in a drawer somewhere. Suddenly, the writer explodes with the words, "There's a hurricane!"

That's the way I like to believe that this thing was conceived—an accidental mash-up of genres, brought about by a writer or two or four saying anything that would make some people hand over some money, so that the writers would get paid to write something. That idea is, sadly, more entertaining than just about anything in The Hurricane Heist.

It seems almost impossible that a movie such as this one could end up being so routine. This should be at least aware of its intrinsic silliness, but aside from a few characters making a few jokes (none of them even about how ludicrous the idea of pulling off a bank robbery during a massive hurricane is), it's a mostly straightforward, humorless affair.

We know we're in for a missed opportunity from its opening moments, in which a father dies while trying to rescue his sons from the approaching Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Twenty-five years later, the sons have grown up: Will (Toby Kebbell) is a meteorologist working for the National Weather Service, tracking hurricanes in an effort to find out how to stop them (good luck with that), and the inexplicably named Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) runs his late father's towing and repair company in the small Alabama town where he was raised. We know that Will fears hurricanes, because two separate characters say exactly that twice—in case we missed it the first time or, for that matter, the prologue, in which he sees a giant skull form within the storm clouds.

In the other movie here, Casey (Maggie Grace), an agent for the Treasury Department, is arriving at the Alabama Federal Reserve location to drop off $600 million in useless cash, which is scheduled to be shredded. Like our other heroes, Casey has a troubled past, involving something that went terribly wrong in Utah.

Does this movie really need three main characters with troubled pasts and reasons to prove themselves against the odds?  Screenwriters Jeff Dixon and Scott Windhauser apparently believe so, as if anyone goes to a movie promising a heist during a hurricane expecting anything from its characters. That might seem counterintuitive to basic storytelling, but again, does anyone go into a movie revolving around a bank robbery in the midst of a massive storm expecting even basic storytelling?

The movie, directed by Rob Cohen, takes itself far too seriously in just about every regard. The heist is led by Casey's partner Perkins (Ralph Ineson), who betrays Casey and his government employer in the hopes of taking an early retirement in Ireland. There's the usual team of thieves: a pair of hackers, several gun-wielding goons, and a corrupt Sheriff's department (like, the entire department in this small town), all of whom are simply fodder for a few bullets and a lot of storm-based chaos.

There are flashes of inspiration here, such as when Will starts tossing hubcaps into the gale-force winds to fend off some attackers, and a couple of sequences that are so over-the-top that it almost seems as if the movie suddenly has come to its senses. One such sequence involves a daring gambit to instantly lower the pressure within a shopping mall, creating a vacuum from a giant skylight, and another is the climactic chase, which features a trio of semi-trucks, some leaping and hanging on to the vehicles, and a wall of apocalyptic storm activity in pursuit.

The movie is aiming to add some spectacle to a routine plot, but it only ends up being routine in both regards. Is it too much to ask that a movie called The Hurricane Heist simply embrace the spectacular silliness of its premise?

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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