Movie Review: You’ll be swept away by ‘THE HURRICANE HEIST’

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

THE HURRICANE HEIST

Rated PG-13, 102 minutes
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Starring: Toby KebbellMaggie GraceRyan Kwanten, Ralph Ineson

Looking for the perfect antidote to the stuffy seriousness of awards movies? Wanna get away from all the heavy messages in blockbusters? Are you ready to just have a lighthearted, rousing time in the movie theater? Director Rob Cohen’s THE HURRICANE HEIST will soothe what ails you. His spawn of a one-night stand between TWISTER and DIE HARD is the movie I never knew I needed in my life until now. Feeling like a concept straight out of the 90’s, but made for the now, Cohen’s riotous actioner spectacularly delivers on the promise of satisfying popcorn movie moments. You know what you’re getting into when you buy a ticket to this one and Cohen gives it to you in spades. It’s easy to get swept away by this kind of ingeniously fun tomfoolery.

Will Rutledge (Toby Kebbell) and – yes, it’s his real name – brother Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) saw their daddy die in the midst of a terrible hurricane and still carry the weight of that tragic event with them to this day, twenty five years later. Will turned the tragedy into a career, facing down mounting storms as a high-tech Meteorologist with a PhD. Star athlete-turned-mechanic Breeze, on the other hand, spends most days sullen and drinking, rotting away in the podunk gulf coast town they grew up in. Meanwhile across town, federal agent Casey Corbin (Maggie Grace), also dealing with some fallout from a workplace tragedy, is delivering a payload of $300 million dollars to be decommissioned and destroyed. Our three heroes’ worlds are flipped upside down when a group of thieves – led by a Hans Gruber-esque Perkins (Ralph Ineson) – decide to knock off the well-protected facility in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane. If it’s not enough the villains are trying to kill them, Mother Nature is too.

Toby Kebbell and Maggie Grace in THE HURRICANE HEIST. Courtesy of Entertainment Studios.

Cohen, along with screenwriters Jeff Dixon (who, fun fact, Cohen bestows the town sheriff with his last name) and Scott Windhauser (whose last name indicates he was born to write this movie), really milk the entertainment value out of the story premise by Carlos Davis and Anthony Fingleton. Surprisingly so much good comes out of this too. I don’t know another recent blockbuster that parcels out the villain kills with as much glorious gusto as this one. It takes brass balls to construct and execute big action set pieces with a straight face like they do here. Those highlights include the showdowns at the cell phone tower (where Will weaponizes hubcaps), the mall (where Will and Casey set an outrageous trap for the baddies), and the titular heist (where the filmmakers cleverly use what’s available to them). Cohen, his special effects and sound design crew, give voice and a figurative face (a skull!) to the hurricane. It’ll make you giggle with glee, but god bless it for being there. There’s also some good stunts involving Will’s tricked out, testosterone-injected car, “The Dominator.” They also build compelling tension into the set-ups in smart ways so that when the inherent absurdity of these situations occur, the audience will assuredly buy into what it’s selling. Cohen even manages to make the heist non-reductive of his work on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.

Perhaps the most surprising – and possibly best – thing to come out of this is the filmmakers have gifted us with a total badass, smart, strong female heroine. Frequently, we see Casey and Will working to save each other. The scales are balanced! Though it doesn’t exactly pass the Bechdel test (which is more reflective on that test needing tweaking), I’m as shocked as you to learn this is feminist fodder.

There’s no reason films like this shouldn’t exist in a marketplace like today. There’s room for it. If cinemaplexes are built on popcorn sales, so should films of this ilk.

THE HURRICANE HEIST is now playing.

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