Last year I felt sorry for Gerard Butler. He played in two atrociously bad movies, the completely bonkers vanity project Gods of Egypt and the insultingly blunt London Has Fallen, and both movies got released back to back. By picking such horrible movies, I thought Butler surely murdered his own career. But a year later we have his next film, Geostorm, which is at least as bad as what came before! This can no longer be blamed on casting agents. This is Gerard Butler digging himself into a hole that will be impossible to crawl out of.
Anyways he plays a hotshot inventor who built a satellite system to control the planet’s weather from orbit. He is also a bit of a hothead and gets himself fired from his own project. Three years later, the system is hacked and used for warfare, such as flash-freezing Afghan villages. So now, Butler is brought in again and sent into orbit to check what is going on.
It is hard to take Butler seriously as a world-renowned scientist. It is even harder to believe him living as an unknown hermit three years later, but at least he seems better cast as a hermit than a scientist. And this is supposed to be the near future, but the space program visible in this film is so big that it would take a century to build all these satellites (which wouldn’t happen anyway because the whole project is crazy). This is an impossible vision of the near future, but let’s accept it for dramatic purposes and move on.
Besides Butler feeling very miscast as a scientist and some unfunny conversations, the first half hour of the film is not that bad, until they bring up the nonsensical concept of a geostorm. But, to be honest, it is about time that anything starts happening. For a disaster movie, Geostorm has little to no build-up. One of the chief pleasures of a good disaster movie is that buildup that you get while the story is unfolding. Disasters start happening. Things start breaking down. People don’t listen to the scientists while volcanoes erupt or storms brew. You know, the building up of anticipation. It’s absent.
I suppose that Geostorm chose the wrong focus. It tries to be Gravity instead of The Day After Tomorrow. There’s lots of astronauts floating about in space and Gerard Butler giving bitesize technobabble while there should have been a buildup of tension. They are doing some kind of technothriller plot on the space station that is smeared out far too much. Meanwhile there is a side plot going with Butler trying to fix a broken connection with his brother, who is also his commanding officer, but I can’t work up any sympathy for any of these people. A handful of side characters also all fail to rouse any interest.
Geostorm’s greatest failing is that it just lacks style and class and comes across as boring. It is like a 90s disaster movie, but unlike, say, Armageddon (1998) or Daylight (1996) it isn’t even interested in telling its own story. The writers cooked up some high concept as an excuse for a heavy special-effects-laden film, but then the story gets strangely lost in its own concept while forgetting about excitement. Butler’s role is dry and boring as a scientist for most of the way. Meanwhile, the film just keeps making it harder for us to take seriously by adding silly stuff, like a “countdown to geostorm”. If the film had focused on schlocky action, that silliness could be overlooked, but with its focus on the technothriller parts that’s just impossible.