When a film is as breathtakingly dim as Geostorm, the question must always arise as to whether its makers know quite how stupid their final product is. Thankfully, in this case, they do. They must. Winks and nudges pepper Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot’s script just enough to allow for moments of sheer dumb fun, amid the swerving tornados of boredom that see climate change threaten the extras of planet Earth.
As the manmade world is increasingly threatened by a devastating tide of apocalyptic weather, an international community of scientists – from 17 countries – come together (under America, obviously) to create ‘Dutch Boy’, a programme of several thousand satellites manufacturing meteorological stability. However, when Afghanistan is hit by a snowstorm (in what seems to be an insulting ‘hell freezes over’ metaphor) it quickly becomes clear that something is awry and only ‘one man’ can save the day. Yep, that would be Gerard Leonidas Butler’s Jake Lawson, Dutch Boy’s inventor.
Jake’s brother, Max (Jim Sturgess, with subtly inconsistent haircuts), just happens to be in charge of the project – having replaced his rogue sibling by Senate order – and it is he who is reluctantly forced to ask Jake to save the day. The pair have a bit of a no-go-bro ‘thing’ that’s been causing a touch of bother in the family, whilst Jake too has the requisite action-blockbuster ex-wife and teenager daughter situation back home.
Of course, it turns out that this ‘may not be accidental’ and that the situation is about to get a whole lot nastier with a rapidly approaching ‘geostorm’ on the horizon, this being: ‘simultaneous catastrophic weather events triggered all across the globe’. That you’ll work out who’s responsible about thirty minutes before the characters is, naturally, a given. Typically, anyone who does crack the clues ahead of the film’s schedule gets bumped off. Geostorm is that sort of film. ‘I, on the other hand,’ says Jake, ‘have a mystery to solve.’
As directorial debut’s go, it’s all very checkbox from Dean Devlin, erstwhile producer of Independence Day, if surprisingly subdued in the global destruction stakes. For the most part, Geostorm is less CGI bombast and more conspiracy cum global-warming prevention romp. Or, rather, plod. Veering wildly between realms of delirium (Sandra Bullock’s designer undies have nothing on Jake’s two minute jaunt into space sans-suit) and doldrums (so many computer screens), the film isn’t half as bad as it could and really should of been. For one, Devlin’s script, co-written by Paul Guyot, is oddly coherent for a story so mercilessly subject to re-writes, shoots and edits. There’s even a fair share of intentional humour, predominantly courtesy of Zadie Beetz’s genre-smart cybersecurity pro Dana: ‘So, who came up with this encryption? A 12-year-old?’
Make no mistake about it, this is nonsense. Aside from being incredibly ill timed, amid real-life natural disasters across the world, the film’s 2019 setting is utterly ludicrous; supposedly near-contemporary technology apparently includes holographic screens and unprecedented advancement in space construction. Likewise, dreadful dialogue often plagues one-note characters, who have a bizarre penchant for holding back on revealing new developments so as to announce them with the most dramatic effect.
Essentially, Geostorm is An Inconvenient Truth, remade by a catatonically plastered Al Gore. Weird, stupid and a little bit fun.