Possible spoilers ahead!
As “Geostorm” opens, we learn that Earth was hit with a series of catastrophic extreme weather events in 2019. These storms wiped out entire cities across the globe, including New York. Recognizing the dangers of global warming, the United States joins the other countries in the creation of a massive satellite system, nicknamed “Dutch Boy,” that tracks extreme weather systems and eliminates them before they can cause any damage.
Dutch Boy is the brainchild of an American scientist with a Scottish accent named Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler). Along with an international crew, Lawson built and ran the space station that controls Dutch Boy, until he was fired from the project by its new head, his own brother, Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess).
Three years later, just as the U.S. government is about to turn control of Dutch Boy over to all the countries of the world, a malfunctioning satellite destroys an entire village in Afghanistan. Just after that, a crew member on the station is sucked out into space. Again, the incident is blamed on a malfunction. Not wanting to turn over a flawed space station, the President of the United States (Andy Garcia) has Max send someone up to find out what happened and fix the problem.
Of course its Jake who ends up going up to do deal with the problem, and it doesn’t take long before he and the station commander (Alexandra Maria Lara) figure out that entire system has been sabotaged. The question now is can they, and Max, figure out who is behind it, before the satellites can create a “geostorm,” an ever-expanding mass of cataclysmic weather that could kill untold millions throughout the world.
First off, I have to say “Geostorm” was marketed completely wrong. All the trailers and tv spots made it look like a movie about weather disaster and nothing more. But as it turns out, this movie has a lot more in it than you’d guess. Yes, the big CGI weather disasters are still there, but “Geostorm” is more political thriller than disaster movie.
Seriously, this movie is a political thriller with a little espionage thrown in for good measure.
I’m not saying the conspiracy plotline improves the movie much, but it did surprise me at times. Almost the entire plot revolves around who is responsible for Dutch Boy’s malfunctions. There are actual layers to this cover up, and some intriguing premises: How far up do the lies go? Is the president involved? Is someone on the station in on it too? All of these questions are dealt with in the film, with a varying degree of success. Where the movie fails the most, is in its lead characters.
The film’s hero is a loud, obnoxious, know-it-all jerk that hates authority. I would have been okay with these character traits, if the actor playing the part was believable. Sadly, Gerad Butler is horribly miscast as a brilliant scientist who created the Dutch Boy system. Whenever he spews some technical nonsense, its funny, and takes you out of the movie.
Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess), looks too young to be the State Department official in charge of Dutch Boy. He also doesn’t get much background other than he and Jake do not get along. The one thing about Jake’s life we do see, is his relationship with a Secret Service agent (Abbie Cornish), who is actually the most interesting character in the movie. But she also doesn’t get any character development.
And the less said about Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, and Eugenio Derbez, the better. I felt that all three were wasted in this movie. Garcia and Harris get a lot of screen time, but neither is used they way the should be. Meanwhile, Eugenio Derbez barely gets any scenes, let alone a few lines. The lack of character development and character arcs turn what would be the emotional payoff into a dud.
When it comes to the special effects, let’s just say that the CGI in “Geostorm” could have been better. I thought one of the worst scenes was a tidal wave that looked like it was created for a movie in 1998. The space sequences are all right, but nowhere near the caliber of other recent space travel movies.
At the end of the day, “Geostorm” shows hints of what it could have been. The premise is there, and some ideas are good, but they pay off never arrives. “Geostorm” has inconsistent directing, questionable casting, and a convoluted plot. All of which derails any hope this movie had.
“Geostorm” final score: D