Critics often lament that worthy films released early in the year are too often forgotten during awards season, so let’s be very clear up front: For your Best of the Worst of 2018 consideration, in all categories, “The Hurricane Heist.”
A “Sharknado” movie minus the fish, this mess is somehow the work of director Rob Cohen, who could once upon a time muster up junky entertainments like “xXx” and the original “The Fast and the Furious.” Now he’s managed to outdo such hilarious recent efforts as “Alex Cross” and “The Boy Next Door” with a laughable caper wherein the good guys continually manage to thwart the bad guys through skillful manipulation of a Category 5 hurricane.
British actor Toby Kebbell, delivering a silly Southern accent so thick you could spread it on a Cracker Barrel biscuit, stars as Will, a master meteorologist returning to the Gulf Coast to chase Hurricane Tammy, which he knows in his gut will be the “storm of the century.” Sheriff Dixon (Ben Cross, another Brit twanging it up) has evacuated the town of Gulfport, where Will grew up. That explains why there are no extras milling about when a crew of crooks shows up to rob the local branch of the Treasury, where $600 million in old bills are waiting to be shredded.
Having apparently learned nothing from “Die Hard,” where all the henchmen have at least one identifying trait, screenwriters Jeff Dixon and Scott Windhauser make all the criminals interchangeable — with the noticeable exception of Sasha, played by Melissa Bolona, whose IMDB bio is an epic of free verse. Of course, the only reason Sasha stands out is that she snuck into the Treasury pretending to be a computer technician, despite the fact that she’s wearing a teal off-the-shoulder minidress with, as we will see later, a matching gun.
It’s up to Will and ATF agent Casey (Maggie Grace) and Will’s boozy brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) to save the day, mostly through absurd coincidences and sheer luck. One scene involves Will and Casey tethered to cables while bad guys are sucked up through the skylight of a mall, and I may have dreamt this one, but I swear there’s a scene where Will kills potential assailants by throwing hurricane-weaponized hubcaps at them.
In any event, Tammy is clearly playing favorites; when the winds come whipping through or a tsunami batters the Gulf Coast, it’s always the thieves who get swept away while Will and his comrades manage to hang on.
Will and Casey come with the kind of backstories that come pre-installed with Final Draft software; he’s obsessed with understanding twisters after one killed his daddy, and she’s a demoted Fed looking for redemption after a mistake cost a colleague his life. Perhaps there was a cop with one more week until retirement who got left on the cutting room floor, but that’s still pretty close to a Movie Cliché Bingo.
All of this culminates in an 18-wheeler chase that makes even less sense than the preceding scenes. But by this point, “The Hurricane Heist” has pummeled us with so many unconvincing CG storm clouds (Will sees skulls in them because backstory) and such an overbearing score by Lorne Balfe (“12 Strong”) – which must have worn out any number of kettledrums – that audiences will likely find themselves staring glassy-eyed or giggling maniacally.
Do not shelter yourself from the silliness of “The Hurricane Heist.” Put down your umbrella, throw your arms open wide and get soaked with its idiocy.