Movie Review: The Hurricane Heist
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Director: Rob Cohen
by Jason Koenigsberg
About twenty years ago in January of 1998 when Titanic was dominating the box office like no movie has since, a little seen big budget action flick called Hard Rain came and went quickly from cinemas along with many other films under James Cameron’s authoritative rule at the multiplex. Hard Rain was a fun action packed heist movie starring Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, Randy Quaid and and contained a lot of cool stunt work involving water, jet skis, boats and more than lived up to what was promised in the trailers. Now twenty years later we get the next closest thing to Hard Rain with Hurricane Heist. The differences in the plot are small, but the differences in the execution of what is on screen are glaring.
It opens with with a gray sky filled with black clouds and the sounds of a thunderous storm. Some text fills us in that we are in Alabama seeing a very exaggerated CGI version of Hurricane Andrew from 1992. Shortly after that we meet two very annoying kids with over the top Southern accents and their dad. We also see a ridiculous CGI skull in a storm cloud showing that director Rob Cohen is channeling more of his Mummy 3 (2008) skills than the ones that made him famous with the original Fast and the Furious (2001). Once again the formerly in-demand director Rob Cohen continues his long and excruciating fall from blockbuster hits to shlock.
After the opening scene we meet the boys all grown up and they along with just about everyone else struggle to make this script believable. The actors put on thick phony Southern accents that are made even worse by the wholly implausible dialogue that drives the plot and fails to get laughs when it forces comedic relief. The screenplay for Hurricane Heist is not laughably but, it is just plain bad. The rest of the movie is a heartless paint by numbers, studio action film on a fast food bargain budget. Sadly, or thankfully depending on how it may have been executed, the movie does not have a strong environmental message or ulterior motive, just brainless, moderately budgeted destruction. There is a lot of gunfire but it is almost all bloodless which is made obvious since the guns the villains use shoot tranquilizer darts instead of bullets. It is a silly and pathetic attempt at making violence safe for kids.
The lazy cinematography does not do Hurricane Heist any favors either. The lighting is always a drab gray and blue color scheme regardless of whether the action is taking place inside out outside. It is very boring to look at. The only time it brightens up is during the third act when the heroes are chasing the thieves in the eye of the storm. This is where Rob Cohen flexes his fast car directing experience with a decent chase in sunlight. It is the only well lit scene in the entire film and the only time viewers can clearly see most of the action.
The plot for Hurricane Heist is a convoluted plan made more silly by the fact that these bandits were counting on a hurricane to take out the generator and disrupt the security at a federal treasury building. Their motivations are predictable and serve the script of these action pictures as characters double cross each other for no reason other than to eliminate certain people out of their cut of the money. Maggie Grace is the only actress that maintains her dignity throughout this disaster of a disaster flick. Maybe that is because she is not required to deliver all of her lines with an obviously false accent, or maybe the fact that she has experience working in these types of films from the Taken movies. She seems more comfortable with her role and not a deer in headlights like many of the male actors surrounding her. Bringing this back to Hard Rain, the plot basically follows that film almost step for step with armored cars, betrayals, and even a sheriff who gets greedy and decides to turn heel and take the money for himself. The difference was that in Hard Rain, the sheriff was Randy Quaid, an American actor who could pass for a yokel sheriff of a podunk town. In Hurricane Heist that sheriff is played by veteran British actor Ben Cross who’s biggest claim to fame is playing one of the runners from the 1981 Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire. Ben Cross struggles mightily with his dialect and that is a perfect example of how miscast and misguided The Hurricane Heist is.
Skip The Hurricane Heist and check out Hard Rain. It is far from perfect but has much more entertaining stunt work and vastly superior performances.