Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Dean Devlin
Stars: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lana, Robert Sheehan, Danial Wu, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Amr Waked, Eugenio Hernandez, Richard Schiff, Mare Winningham.
Geostorm is one big dumb sci-fi disaster movie that seems like a distant cousin to Michael Bay’s Armageddon. But it is also a lot of escapist fun if you can suspend disbelief for a couple of hours.
It stars Gerard Butler, a no-nonsense maverick action here who has in two previous films saved the President of the United States from terrorist attacks – firstly in 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and then in the 2016 sequel London Has Fallen. Here he aims a little higher and saves the world from a geostorm, a cataclysmic convergence of extreme weather systems that will wreak havoc across the planet.
The film is set in the not too distant future. An international team of scientists and climatologists, led by scientist Jake Lawson (Butler), have developed a space station and an intricate network of satellites that could stop extreme weather events before they happen. The weather space station was christened Dutch Boy. But then Jake was fired from the project by his own brother Max (Jim Sturgess, from Cloud Atlas, etc) because he antagonised the powerful politicians responsible for the funding and oversight. But just before the station is due to be handed over to the UN, a glitch in the system creates a few bizarre extreme weather events, like a whole village in Afghanistan being frozen. Jake is recalled to duty and sent back into space to try and fix the glitch.
But he discovers that someone has sabotaged Dutch Boy and it is about to cause a sever geostorm that will devastate much of the Earth. Jake is forced to bury his differences and co-operate with his estranged brother Max to try and prevent disaster. While Jake tries to uncover who on the space station is responsible, Max investigates on Earth, with the help of his girlfriend Sarah Wilson (Australian actress Abbie Cornish, from Somersault, etc), a secret service agent who is assigned to the President’s protection detail. Which is lucky, because only President Palma (Andy Garcia) has the codes to override the space station. Max and Sarah follow a trail of political conspiracy and opportunism to discover who has turned Dutch Boy into a weapon of mass climate destruction.
Thus sets in motion a race against time to prevent disaster, which ends with the cliched countdown clock.
Geostorm is the feature directorial debut of producer Dean Devlin, who has worked on big budget special effects driven films like Independence Day, Godzilla, etc, and he is familiar with this sort of territory. He maintains a fast pace throughout although his direction lacks the flair and visual style of his regular collaborator Roland Emmerich. By all accounts this was something of a troubled production, with extensive and expensive reshoots. There are some unconvincing CGI special effects though in scenes depicting a tidal wave hitting Dubai, giant hail storms raining down on Tokyo, a lightning storm in Orlando, collapsing cities, and even a hurricane wreaking a path of destruction through Delhi. However, Geostorm is not a patch on the classic disaster films from the 70s, films like The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake.
Geostorm has been co-written by Devlin and Paul Guyot, who is better known for his work on television with The Librarians, etc). Some of the dialogue is unintentionally funny and banal. There is some impressive production design from Kirk M Petruccelli, who has designed the interior sets for the massive space station.
The cast also includes Ed Harris, who plays Secretary of State Leonard Dekkom; Alexandra Maria Lara as Ute Fassbiner, the German scientist in charge of Dutch Boy; Irish actor Robert Sheehan (soon to be seen in Ben Elton’s Three Summers) as Duncan Taylor, one of Dutch Boy’s many technicians; and cameos from The West Wing’s Richard Schiff and Mare Winningham.
Geostorm was not previewed to the media, which is usually a troubling sign. However, it is a bit of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.