Control the weather, control the world.
With several violent storms and fierce hurricanes endangering people’s real-life livelihoods, producer Dean Devlin’s (already delayed) directorial debut, Geostorm, feels more than a little ill timed — who wants to go to a multiplex to see ferocious weather threaten the world when it’s being reported on the daily news. I guess after several setbacks and a troubled production, studio Warner Bros. just needed to bite the bullet and release the darn thing.
You see, Geostorm was supposed to come out in March of 2016, before it was held back due to extensive re-shoots, with David Ellison’s Skydance Media (who financed the movie) reportedly spending up to $15 million extra to re-jig the film after principal photography had wrapped, Ellison even bringing Jerry Bruckheimer — the producer behind mega-projects such as 1998’s Armageddon and 2001’s Pearl Harbor — and Danny Cannon, Judge Dredd (1995), on board to try and salvage things following ho-hum test screenings in December ’15. Considering the aforementioned reports, Geostorm isn’t the catastrophic disaster it probably should’ve been, the flick predominantly let down by a clunky narrative that spends too much time in space, with the cheesy earthbound destruct-a-thon feeling more like an afterthought.
The film opens in 2019, when we learn that all of Al Gore’s ‘inconvenient truths’ are close to becoming a reality. In this fictional near-future, the U.S. has joined forces with the rest of the world to combat Earth’s extreme weather, the coalition commissioning a system of satellites designed to control Mother Nature, which they’ve nicknamed ‘Dutch Boy.’ After neutralizing a massive typhoon (near Shanghai) without prior approval, Dutch Boy’s architect/ creator Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is reprimanded by the Senate and fired from the project by its new head, his very own brother Max (Jim Sturgess).
Three years later, the U.S. is about to transfer authority of Dutch Boy over to the United Nations when a bunch of soldiers, stationed in the Afghanistan desert, discover that one of its villages has been turned into a Popsicle by cause of a minor satellite mishap. Afraid of handing his associates a faulty system, U.S. President Andrew Palma (Andy García) insists that Max send someone up to the station to find out what’s happened and possibly reboot the system. It turns out that the best man for the job is the guy who single-handedly solved global warming, his bro Jack, who’s now a boozed up single dad living in a Florida caravan with his daughter Hannah (Talitha Bateman). After some squabbling, Jack agrees to help out, the hothead flying up to the International Climate Space Station (ICSS) while his brother remains in Washington to aid from the ground.
Once on Dutch Boy, Jack and commander Ute Fassbinder (Alexandra Maria Lara) quickly figure out that someone’s sabotaged the system, the pair unearthing what appears to be a massive conspiracy that’s connected to an upcoming U.S. election. Now, with more major cities being hit — Tokyo gets struck by over-sized hail whilst Rio de Janeiro is subject to a killer ice spell — Jack and Max must uncover the threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes everyone and everything out.
First thing’s first, nobody’s walking into a movie called Geostorm to learn more about the harsh realities of climate change, the titular ‘make-believe’ word basically alluding to the goofiness behind the whole concept. Although the nonsense screenplay by Devlin and telly writer Paul Guyot makes very little sense, the effects-driven B-grade destruction is always fun to watch, the highlight, a sequence that sees Malaysia get torched by a heat-laser; just a word of warning, even though we’re teased with an impending geostorm (heck, there’s a even countdown on the big screen in the fancy room with all the computers), there’s actually no full-blown geostorm in Geostorm — which kinda sucks! And, while it’s undeniably entertaining to watch buildings topple like life-size Dominoes, Devlin wastes too much time on uncoiling a political conspiracy plot-line that no paying patron could care less about.
Spending much of his career with regular collaborator Roland Emmerich, The Day After Tomorrow (2004), it’s clear that Devlin has picked up his pal’s shortcomings when it comes to writing stock characters, Geostorm salvaged by its likable cast’s palpable charisma. Gerard Butler, 300 (2006), pretty much plays a variation of that generic ‘hard-boiled cop,’ except he’s a scientist/ astronaut, one who sports a permanent three o’clock shadow. Jim Sturgess, 21 (2008), is okay as Butler’s pen pushing brother Max, while Australia actress Abbie Cornish, Sucker Punch (2011), is a bit bland as Max’s clandestine fiancée Sarah, a Secret Service presidential bodyguard who gets mixed up in the shenanigans on the ground. Ed Harris, Apollo 13 (1995), does his best as Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom, whilst Andy García, Ocean’s Eleven (2001), hams it up as U.S. President Palma, the 61-year-old delivering some of the flick’s silliest lines.
Then there’s Zazie Beetz, from television’s Atlanta (2016), who manages to breath some sort of life into Dana, a cyber security expert who conveniently happens to be friends with Max. Aussie’s might also recognize Irish actor Robert Sheehan — who we recently saw in Ben Elton’s Three Summers (2017) — as Duncan Taylor, a British crewmember working aboard the ICSS.
At the end of the day, a lot of Geostorm doesn’t really add up — since when do ginormous storms dissipate after tinkering with a space satellite — while its physics are shakier than those of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008); but, if you’re willing to overlook plain logic, Geostorm makes for a serviceable shlock-tastic ride! Besides, no one watches a Gerard Butler film to get a lesson in science.
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Geostorm is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia