Depending upon your view, Geostorm is released at the ideal time or at the most insensitive point imaginable. We are, after all, right between meteorological apocalypses. Oh well. Surely there's never a bad time to watch a man on a camel fleeing a Saharan tsunami.
We are always at home to hailstones the size of wildebeest. Geostorm even features a sequence in which Brazilian beach bums run from waves that freeze to absolute zero upon contact with skin. (If you're looking for sensible science you've come to the wrong place.)
It should come as no shock to discover that Dean Devlin, here making his directorial debut, served time as producer on Roland Emmerich films such as Independence Day and Godzilla. But he's dealing from the bottom of the deck here. We don't get much proper climactic mayhem until the final 20 minutes. Indeed, most of the good, dumb action seems to have taken place before the opening credits roll.
Faced with environmental meltdown, the world’s scientists, led by Dr Gerard Butler, have come together and constructed a vast array of satellites – collectively known as Dutch Boy – to control the world weather. As the film begins, Dr Butler is facing censure for being a rogue genius who won’t play by the rules, toe the line or do any of the other things Gerard Butler never does in movies.
Geostorm feels like the sequel to a slightly better, slightly more expensive, significantly more Tom Cruisey film that made all its money in foreign-language territories. Imaginary fans of the imaginary Geostorm I will be disappointed to hear that the new picture has little to do with inland tsunamis and much to do with a clunky conspiracy plot knocked together from unused bits of The Manchurian Candidate and Team America: World Police.
When Dutch Boy starts malfunctioning, Dr Butler’s brother (Jim Sturgess) – a younger, less troublesome government stooge – decides that someone close to the president is deliberately manufacturing apocalypse. Various top character actors flit through the crosshairs on the way towards a ho-hum conclusion.
Geostorm is certainly terrible. But it has an unpretentious charm that sets it apart from most films in its unlovely wheelhouse. The picture does not outstay its meagre welcome. It gets through its romantic subplots with admirable economy. And Butler, now wider of face and wearier of brow, continues to look grateful that we eventually allowed him to be a star.
Its unintended stupidity is part of its limited appeal. “Then you hand it to you and me,” somebody says. “You and I,” a brighter person corrects them. They doesn’t appear to joking [sic].