Director: Rob Cohen
Writers: Scott Windhauser, Jeff Dixon, Anthony Fingleton, Carlos Davis
Starring: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Ralph Ineson Ben Cross
While it won't blow you away, The Hurricane Heist will certainly entertain despite its modest budget.
In response to Netflix and Amazon’s ever-growing catalogue of original content, Sky have submitted their second original film - and their first stab at the action genre - The Hurricane Heist. Its brief synopsis screams straight-to-DVD-tacky-action-film but, while it definitely isn’t a masterpiece, the action thriller does demonstrate some intelligent craftsmanship.
The Hurricane Heist does an awful lot with its relatively small budget of $35 million, using the money quite ingeniously. A very self-contained film, The Hurricane Heist relies on a clever use of localised special effects and takes place almost entirely in one town. This is an odd approach for a disaster style movie, as they usually aim to enthral audiences with panoramic views of underwater cities and the devastation of iconic landmarks. In contrast, The Hurricane Heist doesn’t allow you to simply look on at our heroes' struggle, it throws you right in the mix, deafening rain and relentless winds creating an intense boots-on-the-ground experience. It rarely indulges in high altitude shots displaying monstrous landscape effects, these only coming into play during its end, combining them with some interesting choreography with lorries (lorryography?). These more ambitious special effects are certainly passable for a film of this budget, but don’t expect anything like the destruction in The Day After Tomorrow (2004). The result is a film with a modest budget which manages to feel like a blockbuster.
It does suffer from some common low budget action/disaster movie symptoms, however. The science behind the film ranges from fuzzy to downright preposterous, while some wildly unrealistic stunts will induce some incredulous scoffing. The Hurricane Heist is also guilty of more than a little melodrama; this is obviously the biggest hurricane ever recorded, and of course there is a subplot of family tragedy. Its script really doesn’t have much to boast about, also a common feature of such films, certainly trying to incorporate elements of comedy and depth, but not quite managing to sell it. It also makes a vague statement about climate change, and our insignificance next to the power of the planet, but lacks any real conviction behind this, only being a passing notion which is then quickly caught by the wind. In its favour, the script does a decent job of continuously moving the story forward, particularly during the ‘setting the scene’ phase at the film’s beginning, rarely stagnating or losing momentum.
Sky’s initial attempt at an action thriller has demonstrated an extraordinarily efficient use of its budget, achieving the feel of a big ticket disaster movie while keeping everything on a small scale. It has fallen prey to some common issues surrounding these preposterous high-octane action films, but it undeniably shows ambition, attempting to tell an inventive story with a committed cast.
In one line: A brilliant use of special effects and a some solid performances manage to neutralise a mediocre script and some sketchy science in Sky’s debut action thriller.