In my favorite scene in the new pseudo-disaster movie Geostorm, our hero (played by Gerard Butler) has unmasked the villainous traitor aboard an International Space Station, and they get into a fistfight amid the spacious command center.
Butler’s space ranger has the baddie pinned against a workstation, but underneath this seemingly random desk in the center of the open-office ISS command center, there is a handgun the villain had conveniently taped for just such an occasion.
You might guess what happens next, as the bad guy shoots out a window that sucks him into the void of space, but not before our hero exits the room into a safe zone. Note to ISS designers: bulletproof glass. Note to NASA TSA: no handguns aboard space travel flights.
In the far-flung future of 2019 – yes, a whole two years from now – catastrophic ‘extreme weather’ events have decimated areas around the globe and have forced our bickering countries to band together and solve this nature stuff.
That solution is one man: Jake Lawson (Butler, natch), who single-handedly (or so he would have you believe) builds an outer-space grid network that encompasses the entire Earth and shoots out rockets that control the weather when mother nature gets perturbed.
The grid-network rockets are controlled by the ISS, nicknamed ‘Dutchboy’, and they dissipate clouds and disperse rain depending on the weather needs, but can also create intense and instant heat waves, cold fronts, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and lightning storms. You know, for whenever those come in handy.
This means that if Dutchboy malfunctions, or is – shock, horror – tampered with, then the entire world is at risk. And if enough weather incidents occur across the globe, we’re in for a neverending series of self-sustaining storms known as… (pause for dramatic effect…) a Geostorm.
Number of times the word ‘Geostorm’ is spoken or seen on-screen: 23.
Dutchboy, of course, goes wrong. And it’s up to one man to fix it: Jake’s estranged brother Max (played by Jim Sturgess), who fired his bro from the weather-controlling satellite program three years ago. Just kidding: Butler’s character, of course, is called upon to thanklessly save the planet. Again.
Helpfully, there’s a ticking-clock countdown that lets us know when the Geostorm will activate, after enough separate weather incidents are recorded across the globe, giving Geostorm its disaster movie mileage.
Those weather incidents include:
- A cold front in Afghanistan so sudden and intense it freezes the population of an entire village in place like the victims of Pompeii.
- A hot front in Hong Kong that causes underground pipes throughout the city to burst through the roads and topple buildings. But not before Cheng Long (Daniel Wu) can outdrive the hot front, which crawls through the city at about 30 miles an hour.
- A cold front in Rio so sudden and intense it causes birds and passing jets to instantly freeze, drop to the ground, and shatter upon impact. But it, too, is slow enough to be outrun by a girl in a bikini.
- Hurricanes in Mumbai that result in a lot of sturm und drang, but everything is OK because a random small boy is reunited with a puppy by the end.
- A tsunami in Dubai that topples the Burj Khalifa… but wait, it’s OK! After the storm dissipates, the world’s tallest building is still intact, only now leaning at a 30-degree angle and supported by another structure.
- A lightning storm in Orlando so intense that it detonates an entire sports arena, which explodes upon impact, and yet secret service agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish) manages to outdrive it, swerving in-between bolts of lightning that strike the pavement around her.
- Andy Garcia and Ed Harris also got roped into this mess, as the President and Secretary of State, respectively.
Geostorm is a science-fiction movie that thinks it’s a disaster movie, with science so ridiculous it would be laughed off the SyFy channel, and disaster that fail to deliver on even the most basic level. It might be the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen.
Writer-director Dean Devlin, making his directorial debut here, is best known for his collaborations with Roland Emmerich that include Stargate, Independence Day, and 1998’s Godzilla. Geostorm doesn’t even rate close to those films; it belongs with the likes of Sharknado and Asylum mockbusters, albeit unironically so.
But because the filmmakers take it so seriously, it’s also among the more entertaining movies in those ranks. Terrible movies don’t get much more fun than this.