Starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris
Directed by Dean Devlin
Geostorm might well be the stupidest film of 2017, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable. It stars Gerard Butler, so you know you’re not going to need many brain cells to understand the plot. And as it’s co-written and directed by Dean Devlin, you also know there’s going to be plenty of fireballs, scenes of chaos in international locations and cars trying to outrun carnage.
And the film does not disappoint. Every few years, either Roland Emmerich and Devlin, together or separately, seem to remake their 1996 classic Independence Day, using assorted plot devices to cash in on that movie’s success.
So after the not bad The Day After Tomorrow in 2004 and the wonderfully silly 2012 in 2009, we now have a scenario in which Butler is Jack Lawson, a genius mechanic who created Dutch Boy, an orbiting platform capable of preventing or creating bad weather for the sake of the world. Or something.
This is a world where revamped space shuttles now have the ability to fly like star taxis to the International Space Station, and self-driving cars are designed to make life easier. (Hmm, self-driving eh? Wonder if that’ll come in handy later).
However, when Dutch Boy apparently malfunctions and a village is wiped out by a frozen death ray, Butler, a sort of multi-tasking Desperate Dan in civilian clothes, is assigned to put things right. Trouble is, he’s been sacked from his own project and his brother Max has taken over, leading to much bad blood between the Lawson siblings.
So Butler sets up home in Florida in a shiny steel caravan (which looks like it was delivered to site and unwrapped the same day) and Max turns up in a car, which looks like it was driven straight from the showroom, to recruit him. Funny how I buy the outlandish effects more than everyday weathering on vehicles.
Max (Jim Sturgess) is dating a member of the American Secret Service, and she may or may not be a spy. In fact every other character may or may not be involved in a major cover up which causes things to malfunction and lots of people to die.
Is the American president (Andy Garcia) in on the conspiracy? Who knows?
Okay, I do, but this is one of those movies where half the fun is guessing who’s the bad guy or girl.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Butler, but he does a good job here, lumbering around, spouting B-movie dialogue while Sturgess is fine, but as one dimensional as a cardboard standee of himself that might advertise the film in some far-off cinema.
Good support comes from Alexandra Maria Lara, an actress who reminds me of Marion Cotillard. Could she also be a spy? Yes, everyone could. Well, almost everyone. (*Spoiler at the end).
Of course the real stars of the film are the effects, a series of explosions and set pieces either on the ISS (think Gravity meets Moonraker via 2017’s Life, turned up to 11) and you get the idea.
Providing some kick-ass glamour is Abbie Cornish, who looks like she’s escaped from the series of 24 set in Washington DC. She’s a fearless, sexy, smart, invincible force of nature who you definitely want on your side when people are trying to kill you, or the elements are.
Oh, and it’s nice to see other of the world’s major landmarks that weren’t wiped out in the Independence Day movies, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow under assault from huge waves and the like.
There’s a basic rule of thumb with these movies. Dry places get wet. Cold places get hot. And so on.
For all its faults, stupid dialogue and convoluted action scenes, on a dull November afternoon, it brightens my day a treat, not least because there’s only two of us in the cinema, and the other bloke sat several rows away is polite enough not to spend any of the movie surfing the ‘net like most screenings these days.
There’s at least 30 seconds when I actually feel something for the characters, which is remarkable considering how much like computer game avatars they all are. And full marks to Ed Harris and Andy Garcia for keeping straight faces throughout. But that’s why they get paid millions of dollars.
This will crop up on ITV2 or Channel 5 every few weeks in the future, but if you get the chance, see it while you can on a big screen with decent sound.
Oh, and if you want to rule one person out of the mystery, here’s a dreadful spoiler of a pun.
*It’s not much of a shock to discover (the) Butler didn’t do it.