By: Hawk Ripjaw (Six Pack) –
The Hurricane Heist is the fist-pumping, fist-bumping, beer-chugging, great-bad movie that the world needs right now.
The movie admirably shows its hand relatively quickly with a prologue sequence in 1992 featuring combative Alabama brothers Will and Breeze in a tow truck with their father, racing away from Hurricane Andrew. Dad quickly shelters them into a nearby house while he attempts to get the truck back onto the road, but he fails to notice the hurricane tear down the nearby water tower and his sons look on as he is literally steamrolled by it and a roaring skull forms in the clouds. The Hurricane Heist wastes no time illustrating exactly what sort of movie it is.
Flash forward to present day, and we find Will (Toby Kebbell) has become a meteorologist armed with a Batman Begins Tumbler-looking weather truck, and Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) owns a repair business and has whiskey for breakfast. Casey (Maggie Grace), meanwhile, is a federal officer fluent in casual jackassery and responsible for the escort of $600 million in old cash bills set to be shredded in the town of Gulfport, which is about to be set upon by Hurricane Tammy. No one really suspects that Tammy will be anything to sniff at, besides two people: Will, who is convinced this is about to be “the storm of the century,” and Perkins (Ralph Ineson), who intends to use the hurricane as cover for the heist of that $600 million (hence the title, you see). Turns out they were right (“They underestimated you,” Will says at the looming clouds), and Hurricane Tammy is well on her way to becoming a Category 5 superstorm. The brothers and Casey team up to stop the thieves and get out of town before everything gets wiped out.
A Toast, and also a Second Toast for Your Other Hand
The Hurricane Heist is a movie that sort of defies the MovieBoozer grading scale. We add more beers to (jokingly) recommend you get more inebriated to more easily enjoy a bad movie. If you’re in the right mindset, you don’t need more beers to enjoy this. But boy, do they make it even better. There is a level of intentional, calculated lunacy in The Hurricane Heist unmatched by anything in recent memory outside of the later entries in the Fast & Furious and xXx series (franchises which, unsurprisingly, were birthed by Heist director Rob Cohen himself).
There’s just so much going on here, in terms of what would normally be construed as misguidedness, but here feel like part of the recipe. There is the hacker couple in which the female counterpart is dressed up in stiletto heels and a cocktail dress–for a heist in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane. Yes, there is hacking. There are plots twists and double-crosses. Fertilizer is made into a bomb. Two of the villains fuck while driving, leading to their demise. There is actually a scene in which hubcaps are thrown into the wind, at which point they basically turn into Frisbees of death to impale assailants. It’s a hurricane movie with a character named Breeze.
This is another one of those movies that would completely fall apart if its sure-handedness and confidence wavered for a second. Again, most of that confidence can be summed up in the tagline: “$600 million stolen at 600 miles per hour.” Why 600? That’s stupid. That’s literally a storm on Jupiter. The only obvious answer that 100 or 200 million just wasn’t cool enough.
Cohen is a skilled filmmaker, with a good eye for solid stunt work that culminates in a terrific finale featuring three semi-trailer trucks in the eye of the hurricane fleeing from the storm wall while the heroes leap between the trailers and fight the bad guys inside the cabs. It’s honestly great stuff, if no less ridiculous than the rest of the movie, and it looks better than you’d think given the relatively low budget of $35 million. It’s amusingly convenient as well that the town is evacuated less than ten minutes into the movie, saving money on extras.
It also bears mentioning that a lot of the stunts in this movie were authentic, and this interview with Rob Cohen confirms that he is an actual crazy person.
It doesn’t take long for one of the movie’s most noticeable (and hilarious) problems to manifest, in the opening sequence. The younger versions of Will and Breeze might as well be palette-swapped versions of Walker and Texas Ranger from Talladega Nights for how completely over-the-top their accents are. Their adult versions hardly fare better, with Kebbell in particular delivering a very suspect Southern accent that would make a commercial for baked beans look like high quality acting. The accents range from misguided to downright theatrical, and they’re one of the most consistently amusing elements of the movie. They’re even funnier once you consider Kebbell is English and Kwanten is Australian.
The screenwriters for The Hurricane Heist deserve either a Razzie or a pat on the back (or both), because a lot of the dialogue is so brilliantly idiotic it feels calculated. There’s an entire exchange of dialogue centered on product placement of the brand contents of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Is this Skippy peanut butter?”
“No, I’m more of a JIF guy.”
“But this is Smucker’s Strawberry jam, right?”
That’s one of the worst lines, but far from the only one. Most of it doesn’t get as knowingly batty as other films of its ilk, but there are enough groaners (“Did they teach you that in PhD school?”) and downright endearingly awful (“Well, I am a citizen of Alabama!” proclaims Breeze while showing off his military-grade gun collection) to keep things interesting.
You don’t have to have been through a hurricane to know that they don’t discriminate as they carve a path of utter destruction as they move. Conversely, in The Hurricane Heist, being one of the good guys is almost guaranteed hurricane armor, as in most of the scenes wind will demolish buildings and send vehicles, henchmen (and, yes, those hubcaps) soaring through the air while the protagonists run through it like it’s a summer storm.
Those that have seen the 1998 actioner Hard Rain will notice some immediate and almost suspicious plot similarities. Going beyond being conceptually similar, the movies feel almost cut from the same cloth and feature more than just a couple of borrowed and recycled plot beats to the point where watching the 1998 film first might actually make Hurricane Heist feel derivative by comparison. However, the latter still does have its own distinct flavor and leans hard enough into its own absurdity to be distinct. In fact, both movies have such a good read on how to have fun with admittedly well-worn action movie tropes and twists that they function as a great double feature.
The Hurricane Heist is one of those movies where you’ll watch the trailer and know immediately whether it’s something you’re going to love or loathe—and you’re going to be absolutely correct. It’s right there in the title, and there is almost literally nothing beyond that. This means that there is a lot of both of those things in the movie, and that’s going to appeal to a very specific type of filmgoer.
It comes back to the grading scale we use here: at the outset of writing this review, I contemplated giving it a Toast, our highest honor. In a way, it deserves it. For connoisseurs of great-bad cinema, the gleeful stupidity of The Hurricane Heist is almost impossible not to fall in love with. It is very bad, and very, very, very fun.
In short, I want to give Rob Cohen a hug and buy him a beer.
The Hurricane Heist (2018) Movie Drinking Game
Do a Shot: for every noticeably dodgy Southern accent
Take a Drink: for everything you spot as lifted from Hard Rain
Take a Drink: for every instance of technical jargon that is clearly bullshit
Take a Drink: every time the laws of physics are disobeyed
Do a Shot: for Skull Cloud