Review: The Hurricane Heist (2018)
The Hurricane Heist came out in 2018, but I would never have guessed that by watching it. As I was watching it, I thought to myself, “Damn, this feels a lot like that awesome Daylight movie with Stallone that came out in the mid 90s!”. Before you say some smart ass remark, no, I was not being sarcastic. Daylight was awesome and I will fight you if you disagree. Turns out, there was a reason why this movie felt that way. They have the same director, Rob Cohen!
Alright, I have to come clean and admit something that might make your opinion of me drop a few notches. I have a soft spot for Rob Cohen and his movies. The guy gained prominence in the 90s with Daylight and Dragonheart (both guilty pleasures). At that point he must have said, “Well, those were completely mediocre, moderately successful movies, and I’m ok with that, so I’ll change absolutely nothing about the way I do things in the future!” And to his credit, he didn’t. He became even more famous when he directed The Fast and the Furious (2001) and xXx (2002) and he hasn’t looked back since then. Every single one of his movies has a throwback type of feel to it that just screams mid 90s production. And every single one of them is mediocre at best, incredibly stupid, enjoyable in the moment, then immediately forgettable once the credits roll. The Hurricane Heist is not an exception. I’ll give Cohen and the writers credit though, they aren’t even trying to decieve us into thinking this is a serious movie. . . or a good movie for that matter. From the opening scene, they own and embrace the sheer stupidity of the premise and, I won’t lie, it’s made better because of it.
The first scene introduces us to our main characters, Will and Breeze, as children in Alabama in 1992. Child actors are pretty much always terrible, but these kids take it to a whole new level as they fumble their way through exaggerated versions of southern accents. I nearly gave up and shut it off within these first few minutes, but I gathered strength and pushed on. Anyway, these brothers are in a pickup with their dad trying to evacuate from a devastating hurricane and they start bickering and fighting, so Pops tells them to practice their football plays (What? You thought a measly hurricane would an Alabaman from talking about football?). Little Breeze whips out his playbook and says, “Oh here’s a good one, ‘Red Dog Omaha 22’”, to which Little Will responds, “I know that one. It’s the hook and ladder play.” It’s all really cringe worthy stuff, so I was relieved when a tree fell into the road causing Dad to crash the truck.
Lucky for them, they crashed in a field next to an empty farmhouse. They all run to the house, but then Dad thinks, “I have a bright idea, we have this perfectly fine shelter from the storm, but I should probably run outside and try to get the truck unstuck.” Personally, I thought that was a bad idea and I was proven right when he was squished by a rolling water tower that the hurricane blew over. If seeing that didn’t traumatize the kids enough, the house’s roof is torn off and and the hurricane has a skull face that comes right at them! That’s the kind of movie we’re dealing with here, folks. The hurricane has a damn skull face. . . I wish I was making this shit up.
We fast forward to modern day, where Will (Toby Kebbell) is now a meteorologist (who drives a badass vehicle that's basically what Batman would drive if Batman was a weatherman) and Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) is a repairman after a stint in the military. We also meet treasury agents Casey (Maggie Grace) and Perkins (Ralph Ineson), who are transporting money to a facility to be destroyed. I don’t want to spoil anything (even though you’ll see the twists coming from a mile away), so I’ll give you the simple version of the story. Some bad guys decide they want to steal that money and they attempt to do just that, using the hurricane as their cover. In very convenient ways, Will and Breeze get involved and have to help Casey stop the heist attempt.
My main issue with The Hurricane Heist is the writing, and even that I’m split on. Sure, the entire premise is ludicrous, so pretty much everything happening on screen at any given moment is complete nonsense, but I do have to give the writers some credit. They got pretty creative on how they used the hurricane as both a plot device and as a way to get creative with the action, all of which was filmed clearly by the veteran action director, Cohen. My favorite bits were when Will used his meteorologist knowledge to turn the hurricane into a weapon. At one point, he was getting shot at by some bad dudes down the street, so he grabs a bunch of hubcaps (that just happened to be laying there for him) and just lightly tosses them into the air. The hurricane wind grabs a hold of the hubcaps and sends them hurtling down the street like razorblades at the bad guys. That one made me giggle in the “Ok that was dumb as shit, but also kinda cool” way.
This movie is full of fun little action moments like that, including a nice Die Hard homage where Will and Casey have to jump off a roof with a rope around their waste to avoid oncoming water and debris. For the most part, the action is unique and interesting enough to maintain a solid level of excitement throughout
The most ridiculous scene by far is the finale though (which is exactly how it should be). The main villain is trying to get away in a semi-truck, while Will and Casey chase him in one semi, and Breeze chases him in another. That’s too boring though, so the writers spiced it up by putting the action directly in the eye of the hurricane. The eye is peaceful, with bright blue sunny skies and no wind, but the edge of the eye is a massive black wall of cloud and wind and debris. So, now the semis have to deal with each other while trying to outrun that wall, otherwise they’ll get sucked up in the air and die. This makes for an incredibly bonkers ending to wrap up this crazy movie.
Oh, do you remember that dumb ass opening scene I told you about? Well, it all comes full circle here at the end. Breeze gets on the radio and yells out, “Yo Will, ‘Red dog Omaha 22’, hut, hut!”. Apparently, that made up shit that, according to stupid Little Will, means ‘Hook and ladder play’, also applies to stopping bad guys in a high speed, eye of the tornado chase because with only those words spoken, the brothers are able to pull some sweet synchronized maneuvers in their semis (all of which I’m 99% sure have nothing to do with a football play). And that hurricane skull face? It’s back!!! As the wall of the hurricane nearly catches them, the skull comes back and tries to swallow their semis. It’s all very silly stuff, but it made me chuckle so I guess I kind of liked it.
Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to the writing. While a lot of the writing is the so bad, it’s good type of writing, there’s also a lot of just plain awful writing. It’s bad to the point where I feel like it wouldn’t be fair of me to call the acting poor. I mean, a lot of it is. Most of the supporting characters are terrible, but the main actors do a decent job. The problem is the dialogue they’re forced to spout throughout the movie. Even Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Grace (Lost), and Ineson (The VVitch), actors that I know have talent, are completely wasted playing shallow, cliche characters that have to say the dumbest things the whole time. The biggest issue with the writing is the lack of intentional humor. As you can probably tell, there are loads of moments that made me chuckle at the sheer stupidity of what I was watching, and that actually made it a fun experience, but any time they tried to write in some funny dialogue, or a one liner, or some something to inject some humor, it fell completely flat. I found myself rolling my eyes at pretty much every character that opened their mouths.
Overall, The Hurricane Heist is another solid entry in Cohen’s filmography. It won’t be remembered as high art, but it is a good piece of throwback style of entertainment. It’s a good combination of an old school disaster movie setup, with a story that feels straight out of the‘90s. I do wish the dialogue would have been written better. It should have made the unbelievable action sequences even more of a blast, instead of taking me out of the moment with their groan worthy attempts at jokes. The action is solid enough, and the setup is clever enough, though, to keep me interested and keep my adrenaline pumping until the end. I’m hesitant to recommend this one, as I know I tend to enjoy stupid, ridiculous action movies more than most people, but If you are able to turn your brain off and just enjoy the spectacle of this insane concept, you might just have a bit of fun with this one.