Rob Cohen’s The Hurricane Heist is an exceedingly silly, but undeniably entertaining bit of red-meat escapist action fare centered around (as the title not-so-subtly suggests) a major heist that takes place in the middle of a hurricane. And it’s not just any heist. Oh, no. This is a highly coordinated robbery of a maximum-security U.S. Treasury facility filled with hundreds of millions of dollars of old currency slated to be shredded—pallets and pallets of cash stacked six feet high and weighing thousands of pounds. And it’s not just any hurricane. Oh, no. This is the hurricane to end all hurricanes: a Category 5 monstrosity that the weather service doesn’t see coming, but our intrepid protagonist, Will (Toby Kebbell), a drawling meteorologist whose backstory involves some pretty traumatic childhood experience with hurricanes, knows is on its way. You see, Will is a guy who trusts his gut, and his gut is never wrong when it comes to predicting truly destructive weather patterns (take that computer models, data, and algorithms!).
The U.S. Treasury facility being robbed is located in a small town on the Alabama coast that has been largely evacuated. Thus, the only people left to stop the robbery are Will, his hardened, alcoholic older brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten), and a Treasury agent named Casey (Maggie Grace) who has hidden the tablet computer with the code needed to open the vault. The heist has been masterminded by Perkins (Ralph Ineson), a sneering, narrow-eyed opportunist with a distinct Yorkshire accent who has assembled a team of vicious mercenaries and two hipster hackers (Ed Birch and Melissa Bolona) who infiltrate the facility under the guise of fixing the downed computer system, but are actually undermining all the facility’s security systems.
The estranged brothers Will and Breeze are unlikely heroes, but they rise to the occasion in ways that at first feel natural, but ultimately veer into the absolutely ludicrous when they are leaping Mad Max-style from the backs of speeding 18-wheelers while the wall of the hurricane closes in on them. The film’s sense of action is delightfully old-school despite all the computer-generated effects. Cohen is always game for pushing it far past logic and the laws of physics to get the effect he wants, and at times this make The Hurricane Heist disarmingly fun. At other times, though, it leads him into some truly campy decisions, such as giving the hurricane clouds a screaming skull-like face at one point to connect it with the hurricane that killed Will and Breeze’s dad when they were kids, thus suggesting that weather systems have some kind of personal vendetta against them (it reminds one of the tagline “This time, it’s personal” from 1987’s utterly ludicrous Jaws: The Revenge).
Cohen certainly isn’t above the ludicrous; he is the director, after all, who kicked off The Fast and the Furious franchise back in 2001 and gave us XXX (2003), in which Vin Diesel starred as an adrenaline-junkie-turned-secret-agent snowboarding down an exploding mountain. Cohen got his start as a producer and developer in the realm of made-for-television films in the 1970s, and most of his feature-film directorial work has centered on carefully attenuated bombast that takes us right to the edge of utter disbelief, but then pulls back just enough to keep us connected. The Hurricane Heist is no different, as its biggest action set-pieces, including the aforementioned multi-18-wheeler race down a deserted highway with the hurricane in hot pursuit, are utterly preposterous, but too much fun to dismiss. He also gets to work within the time-honored heist genre, and some of the film’s best moments are actually the tense Die Hard-style verbal standoffs between Perkins and his various goons and Will and Casey (McTiernan’s 1988 action masterpiece looms heavy in the background, but mostly in a good way).
The screenplay by relative newcomers Scott Windhauser and Jeff Dixon is something of a mess, taking all manner of archetypes, clichés, and formulas and assembling them into a roaring Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that is, we can only hope, destined to take its place among the likes of Rowdy Harrington’s Road House (1989), Jan De Bont’s Twister (1996), and Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea (1999) on the mantle of great guilty pleasure action movies whose relatively meager theatrical box-office receipts could have not foretold their long life in the realm of home video, which rewards the repeated consumption of visual excess and absurd lines of dialogue. The Hurricane Heist has plenty of both.
Copyright © 2018 James Kendrick
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All images copyright © Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Overall Rating: (2.5)
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