"A Category Two Mess, but Not a Total Disaster"
What You Need To Know:
If viewers are willing to shut off their brains completely, the action scenes in HURRICANE HEIST are exciting and not too graphic. Also, the special effects are terrific, and HURRICANE HEIST has a strong moral worldview extolling doing the right thing and helping others. However, the performances make almost zero emotional connection to the audience. Some of the action and dialogue is silly and unbelievable. Finally, HURRICANE HEIST’s positive worldview is laced foul language, lots of violence and a politically correct environmentalist message about climate change. Extreme caution is advised.
THE HURRICANE HEIST is an action, crime and natural disaster thriller about a group of hackers who plan to rob $600 million from a Treasury office in Alabama during a Category 5 storm.
The basic storyline is interesting enough. When dollar bills get too worn out to be used, the government collects and shreds them at a U.S. Mint location, set in the fictional town of Gulfport, Alabama. A disgruntled employee named Perkins, played by Ralph Ineson, partners with a group of hackers and elite criminals to steal truckloads of dollars scheduled to go into the shredder. They plan the heist to take place while the town is evacuated for Tropical Storm Tammy, giving them a clear escape route without any witnesses.
However, fate throws a wily ATF employee (Maggie Grace) together with the world’s most rugged meteorologist (Toby Kebbell) to stop the robbery. Together, they must save her boyfriend and rescue his brother (Ryan Kwanten), while eluding the robbers and the natural disaster that could kill the guilty along with the innocent.
Sadly, that’s as interesting as this multi-genre movie ever gets. Coming from Rob Cohen, the director of xXx and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, the movie features loads of action briefly interrupted by unrealistic plot devices and bland performances. Sometimes, the action is over-the-top ridiculous: flying hubcaps kill people! In one scene, the hero and heroine lure the criminals into an abandoned shopping mall to save Kwanten’s life, only to do something that would have killed Kwanten in any real-life scenario. The movie resembles the Clint Eastwood movie THE GAUNTLET in that the real star of the movie is a tricked-out vehicle, in this case Kebbell’s storm-chasing car, “The Dominator.” If Eastwood couldn’t save his 1977 movie, Kebbell couldn’t carry this vehicle, either.
If viewers are willing to shut off their brains completely, the action scenes in HURRICANE HEIST are exciting and not too graphic. Ironically for a movie featuring machine gun fights and a tropical storm destroying a whole town, the most disturbing scenes involve fistfights, especially when a man attacks a woman. The special effects are top rate, however. For example, the cinematography captures the storm’s destruction so perfectly that the opening scene makes the sky seem as if it’s deliberately menacing, like a human villain. The script gives the characters sympathetic backstories, but undermined by some innocuous dialogue and, in the case of Sheriff Dixon (Ben Cross), the phoniest Southern accent since Foghorn Leghorn. Ineson gives the standout performance as a thief trying to maintain his own moral code, slowly corrupted by greed. Most of the performances, particularly Kebbell’s as the gonzo meteorologist, establish zero emotional connection with the audience.
For a banal action flick, THE HURRICANE HEIST has a surprisingly strong moral message. The characters put their lives on the line to stop thieves from stealing dollars that the government is ready to destroy, simply because it’s the right thing to do. The heroes would all be safer, and richer, if they choose the immoral choices the movie dangles before them, but they always firmly reject them. All of the heroes are in search of redemption, and the movie portrays reconciliation of the two brothers after an almost lifelong estrangement. Greed is shown to corrode the moral life of even the most sympathetic robber.
THE HURRICANE HEIST hides explicit, wild environmentalist propaganda. The meteorologist claims the Category 5 storm is caused by “man-made climate change,” which will soon be “killing hundreds of thousands of people.” Global warming will literally rip the steeple off your church (as it does in this movie) and you may “have to watch someone you love die right in front of your eyes,” he says, if the world doesn’t act immediately.
All in all, THE HURRICANE HEIST is a mindless action movie filled with exciting firefights and raging natural disasters created through impressive special effects. Its naturalistic and man-made violence are punctuated with extreme cursing, however, and its surprisingly moral messages come with a sermonette on global warming. Teenagers and adults seeking a big-budget, shallow action flick should watch this only with EXTREME CAUTION.