Gerard Butler. He comes so close to being an enjoyable movie star, for me, and yet his choice of movies keeps leaving him as a second-tier option, at best. He's given us fun performances in 300 and Olympus Has Fallen but he's also given us performances in The Bounty Hunter and, well, London Has Fallen (which I still sort of enjoyed, but perhaps only because it was better than the prospect of a sequel to The Bounty Hunter). And now he's the star of Geostorm, a disaster movie/thriller about a system of weather satellites that may well be commanded to fall to Earth and cause global chaos and destruction. If you don't want to read this whole review, let me just say that Geostorm does not sit alongside the better Butler films.
Directed by Dean Devlin, who has already destroyed large parts of Earth on numerous occasions with the films he produced with Roland Emmerich, the plot is, well, it's really just what I already mentioned above. Butler plays Jake Lawson, the man who helped to build the system, and who is then sent back up into space to figure out what is happening to the system. Meanwhile, on the ground is his brother, Max (Jim Sturgess), who might just be able to help him figure things out with the help of his secret service girlfriend, Sarah (Abbie Cornish, and don't start me on how badly she needs to change her agent for someone who won't leaver her to be wasted in such thankless roles). You have a mystery plot, you have a number of obvious villains, and you have Butler being the one man who may just be the person able to save our entire planet.
And yet it's all crushingly dull. Yes, this is another CGI-laden blockbuster that forgets to throw in characters you might care for, any hint of believability, and any real weight to the planet-threatening elements. It's so busy showing you the huge scale of the problem that you get nothing more intimate to make it seem more urgent and dangerous.
Butler isn't at his best in the lead role, he can't overcome the weak script, and this isn't a film that works on his strengths. Basically, he doesn't get to be sweary and violent enough. Sturgess and Cornish are almost completely wasted, their characters being used to move the plot along so predictably that I wouldn't be surprised if it was discovered that a scriptwriting app was used to write this film rather than the minds of Devlin and Paul Guyot. Andy Garcia and Ed Harris do a bit better, but that's more to do with the strength of their personalities as opposed to anything from the material, and Alexandra Maria Lara, Daniel Wu, Robert Sheehan, and all of the other cast members struggle to shrug off a script that weighs them all down like an overcoat made of wet cement.
But it's the dullness that remains the biggest problem. Many blockbusters can distract you from a bad script and thin characterisations if the spectacle is good enough. This just doesn't manage that. As realistic as the CGI may be in places, it is also never placed alongside enough actual real elements to ever feel completely convincing, which means viewers are never drawn in or made to feel any tension.
In his ongoing quest to make his disaster movies ever bigger it would appear that Dean Devlin has simply led himself along a path to bigger and bigger disasters, but not in the way he intended.
You can buy the film here.
Americans can buy it here.