The British like to talk about the weather, but the Americans love to make movies about it. The Hurricane Heist is a throwback to the heady days of 90s disasters flicks and thrillers: the decade that brought us the flying cows of Twister, the sodden thrills of Hard Rain or the daft action fare of Cliffhanger.
It’s also as tacky as a faux leopard skin handbag.
The Hurricane Heist‘s opening sequence at least reassures us that nobody’s taking things too seriously. We’re pitched back to 1992, and an Alabama homestead in the grip of a raging storm. Two boys, Willy and Breeze, cling to one another as an almighty gust tears the roof off their house. Willy looks up, and for a second, he fancies he can see a gigantic, computer-generated skull glaring down from the eye of the hurricane…
Cut to the present, and Willy (now played by Toby Kebbell, complete with a southern drawl) is still obsessed by the weather, to the point where he drives around in a Batmobile-like truck studying hurricanes for the government. For reasons far too convoluted to relay here, Willy becomes embroiled in a plot to rob an Alabama treasury building of $600 million in used bills; his brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten, of Home & Away fame) is taken hostage by the bad guys, so Willy teams up with ATF agent Casey (Maggie Grace) to foil the villains’ heist.
Director Rob Cohen’s no stranger to high-concept, low-plausibility stuff like this, having previously brought us such action-thrillers as the original Fast & Furious, Vin Diesel action vehicle xXx, and the stolen plane opus, Stealth. With names like Willy and Breeze Rutlege in the mix, you can be sure that Hurricane Heist is being pitched as a so-bad-it’s-good B-movie, which it kind of is. There’s lots to gasp and titter at in here, and we can only wonder whether it’s meant to be intentionally funny: an action set-piece in the midst of a howling gale sees the hero throw hubcaps like ninja stars. In another, two characters are left flapping about in the sky, attached to cables like human kites. (The wind’s power does seem to vary wildly even in the middle of a scene; a gust strong enough to pick up a house in one shot fails to dislodge a flat cap in the next.)
The performances are a similar mixture of the strange and the preposterous. Kebbell and Maggie Grace are far too good for all this nonsense, but they seem to be enjoying the ride all the same; Ralph Ineson flashes his teeth and the whites of his eyes as Perkins, the main villain, but the plot conspires to leave him increasingly drenched and frustrated at every turn. For the most part, he’s left to shout at his underlings like an underpaid supply teacher on a miserable school trip.
It’s Ben Cross, meanwhile, who manages to the chew the most scenery, even as it’s whizzing past in the eye of a hurricane; with bottle-blonde hair and a faltering drawl, his corrupt lawman is forced to say things like, “I got the girl, all wrapped up in a pretty red bow” or “We’re gonna cattleprod her privates until she gives us the code,” while discharging his shotgun. The weirdest big-screen sheriff in movie history? He’s certainly in the running.
With acting and lines like that, you might think you’re in for a great Tuesday night out at your multiplex; unfortunately, the action sequences don’t always match the rest of the film’s ramshackle charm. Despite the odd bit of hubcap throwing, the shoot-outs and car chases are fairly rote; what Hurricane Heist needs is more outlandish tomfoolery like the later Fast & Furious movies. For all the wildness implied by its title, the larger action sequences are largely spins on stuff we’ve seen before, except with added black clouds and wind machines.
Still, while the thriller elements are tepid and even the composer, Lorne Balfe, seems to be phoning his performance in, Kebbell and Grace give it their all – which is a miracle in itself, given that most actors would be calling their agent after some of the scenes here. One moment sees them pause from their adventure to urinate in a multi-storey car park; then they start arguing. We can only imagine what they thought when they saw this written in the script.
As chintzy multiplex trash, The Hurricane Heist lacks the sheer madness that made, say, Geostorm oddly fascinating; drink enough beer beforehand, though, and you’ll find a diverting 100 minutes’ entertainment swirling around in here.
The Hurricane Heist is out in UK cinemas on the 6th April.