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Review: Weak political elements take punch out of 'Geostorm'

| Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, 11:27 a.m.

“Geostorm” finds ways to draw attention away from an interesting use of weather as a weapon by using a cold front of political jabber.

The problems in “Geostorm” were caused by director Dean Devlin and co-writer Paul Guyot as they have taken a passable action film and buried it under a tsunami of political muck. Politics can work - even in an action movie ­— but each smart twist needs to be followed by an even smarter turn. Both Devlin and Guyot have worked heavily in television and their writing comes across like the half-baked plot lines of a low-grade TV show.

Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is the creative mastermind behind the development of an interconnected series of satellites positioned around the planet in such a way that can be used to stop severe weather from hurricanes to heatwaves. It wouldn't be a role for Butler if he wasn't playing a character who has no time for authority figures. His snippy attitude goes too far and it finally gets him fired as the main man at the International Space Station where the weather controlling system known as Dutch Boy is run. The name comes from the story of the boy who stuck his finger in a damn until repairs could be made.

There would be no movie if everything was blues skies and sunshine. After a couple of freak accidents result in major catastrophes, it's decided that Lawson's the only person who can make the quick jaunt into space to find the problem and correct it before more bad weather arrives. No one needs another sub-zero event like the one in Afghanistan that turned an entire village into a tribute to Disney's “Frozen.”

Of course, the guy who has to convince Lawson to take the job is his brother, Max (Jim Sturgess). He just happens to be the person who fired Lawson three years ago. The brothers haven't spoken in years but Lawson is willing to take the challenge because he feels so connected to Dutch Boy.

As Lawson and his odd team try to find the problem, Max and his secret girlfriend, Secret Service agent Sarah Wilson (Abbie Cornish), must deal with the political elements that are little more than recycled plot points. Is the president corrupt? Who can be trusted? Why is there no security for Air Force One? Are all politicians so stupid they think no one will be that upset with billions of people being killed by deadly weather patterns created by a system under the control of the United States government?

The ending is so loaded with overwrought political rhetoric that even a massive tidal wave couldn't wash away the hackneyed dialogue and unbelievable actions.

“Geostorm” would have been better had it been more like the 2004 release “The Day After Tomorrow.” No one carried about politics or big conspiracies in that Dennis Quaid movie. It entertained by putting people in peril from a new Ice Age.

That would have worked here. The action scenes in “Geostorm” are strong from a dramatic space walk by Butler's character to a sudden blast of frigid cold on a Rio beach that freezes sun worshippers in their tracks. The weather woes around the world are slow to show up but when they do, they hit like a hurricane.

Butler makes the space station action work because he brings the same kind of bravado to his performance that he used in “London Has Fallen,” “Olympus Has Fallen,” “300” and even the forgettable “Gods of Egypt.” He's a blue-collar hero who is driven by only one force — a promise he made to his 13-year-old daughter (Talitha Eliana Bateman) that he would come back from space. If he can save the world in the meantime, all the better.

The problem is that the film keeps slowing down for the political moments. There often is this kind of problem when a director works from his own script. Even with a co-writer, there needed to be another voice.

Rick Bentley is a Tribune News Service writer.

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