Release Date: 22nd of August
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Director: Steven Quale
Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Alycia Debnam Carey
When a freak storm converges on the small Midwestern town of Silverton, it starts all sorts of trouble. It doesn’t just bring the usual hassle of tornadoes, giant hailstones and flying bits of masonry; some storm chasing documentarians are desperate for some killer footage too. When one such crew and their tornado proof Batmobile cross paths with widowed father Gary Morris, a man on a desperate mission to save his son, this ragtag band of clichés find themselves heading into the heart of the chaos in this wholly uninspired found-footage disaster movie.
With the advent of CGI and the large scale visual possibilities it afforded, Hollywood in the mid to late 90s saw the rise of big budget disaster movie spectaculars such as Dante’s Peak, Armageddon and Twister. Created to act as a showcase for the dazzling visual potential of Tinseltown’s newest toy, these films swapped out the starry casts and social commentary of 70s disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure, for amped up spectacle and cutting edge effects. Now some twenty years later comes Into the Storm; mixing the outdated fads of both the disaster and the found footage movie.
The problem is that despite having characters filming each other in highly dangerous and stupid scenarios (by minute two, someone has stood in the path of an oncoming tornado and filmed it as they’re sucked up into the sky) Into the Storm still cheats on its premise, having footage coming from unexplained and even impossible sources. The found footage device merely allows for characters to unload backstory direct to camera in the most irritatingly banal way possible, and is then abandoned willy-nilly when it suits director Steven Quale. It’s poorly conceived, badly executed, and falls way short of the flawed but fun likes of Dante’s Peak and Twister.
It’s not just the script and execution of Into the Storm that’s a woeful downgrade on Twister, it’s the cast too. While Twister featured Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman in prominent roles, Into the Storm stars the bloke from Spooks, the woman from The Walking Dead and two men in their mid-20s playing teenage boys. It’s hard to find a decent performance in this mess, but Matt Walsh’s tyrannical and obsessive storm chaser comes close, everyone is else is either functional, questionable or in Richard Armitage’s case absolutely diabolical. His turn in this is so bad you half expect him to be credited as Armitage Shanks, his gruff American accent is laughable.
None of this is helped by a script that seems to have substituted all dialogue for great globs of expository waffle about dead wives, missing children and an abandoned paper mill. It’s all delivered with such po-faced, watery-eyed conviction that it’s bordering on parody; characters spout gubbins like ‘you’ve not treated me the same since mom died’ and ‘that’s the biggest tornado I’ve ever seen in my life’. This collection of hackneyed characters all talk and behave in a manner that barely resembles a human being; couple this with the almost total absence of levity or charm the film quickly becomes a gruelling cycle of turgid conversations and noisy but dull CGI carnage. It’s a particularly long 89 minutes.
Complete rubbish from beginning to end, this wastes its potential as harmless fun by skipping the fun and just becoming harmless. Into the Storm is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Much like a giant tornado, this manages to simultaneously suck and blow.