You’d have to be naïve, stupid, or both to go into Geostorm expecting a good movie. But as I’ve written before, a bad movie isn’t necessarily an unenjoyable one, and I’m happy to say that Geostorm is a dreadful good time.
Let’s get the so-called plot out of the way: after designing a system of satellites that can prevent natural disasters by controlling weather (it only gets sillier from here), Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is fired for…I can’t remember what exactly, but suffice it to say that he was entirely justified in his actions and that his bureaucrat superiors only canned him because they lack the balls to get anything done. Naturally, this creates a rift with his brother Max (Jim Sturgess), who works for the very committee that fired him. Three years later, rogue weather events caused by the satellites begin popping up over the globe. The government suspects sabotage, and has no choice but to turn to the last man on earth who wants to help.
Though the trailers suggested a global disaster flick akin to The Day After Tommorow, Geostorm ends up evoking Armageddon more than anything. It lacks that film’s massive running time, and trades its brainless patriotism for brainless globalism (with box-office heavyweight China getting extra lip service), but the key pieces are still there: the heroes in space, the mounting chaos on Earth, and the special effects-laden climax.
Where to start with Geostorm’s many guilty pleasures? The foreign-born leads give us two shitty American accents for the price of one; with Sturgess sporadically slipping into Brooklyn tough-guy mode and Butler sounding like he’s from a country that doesn’t exist; both are feebly explained away with a line saying they were raised “in the UK.” Then there’s Lawson’s precocious daughter, whose dialogue is so absurdly adult that her conversations with her father feel uncomfortably like lovers’ spats. And let’s not forget President Palma (Andy Garcia), human McGuffin and Hollywood’s laziest Obama surrogate yet, complete with the jeer-worthy campaign slogan “United We Can.”
The story is so predictable it will make even casual filmgoers feel psychic. Early on, it indulges in the “shifty-eyed Arab who’s not a terrorist” bait-and-switch, a trope that has now crossed the subversion event horizon into the realm of full-on cliché. The real mole is so obvious that you can safely guess who it is by looking at the top-billed actors on the poster. But fear not; Geostorm ditches the rulebook for full-on insanity in its last reel, which boasts a nonsensical fistfight during the exploding space station climax, as well as the sudden presence of a rocket launcher in the final car chase.
It may be hard to read any of the above as a good review, but for those who appreciate this kind of movie, it is. Geostorm is too short to ever become truly offensive, its special effects are impressive if unoriginal, and there’s no shortage of unintentional laughs. It’s a bad movie, but it’s a pretty good bad movie, one made for at-home snark sessions with a few good friends.