Geostorm is a perfect storm of bad writing, terrible acting and empty messages [Review]

By Edmund Ho

There’s, sadly, not a lot to love about the Gerard Butler-led disaster film

By Edmund Ho |

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Geostorm is prime B-grade trash, and perfect for those who wish to switch off their brains and passively consume a load of CGI and bad acting.

The movie features Gerard Butler in a limp performance as scientist Jake Lawson, who has designed and built a global satellite system that disrupts potentially disastrous weather patterns, preventing them from destroying cities. As you can guess, the entire system gets hacked and it’s up to Lawson and his brother, Max (Jim Sturgess) and his Secret Service bodyguard girlfriend, Sarah (Abbie Cornish), to prevent a global catastrophe caused by a geostorm.

Butler gives a career-worst (wait, sorry, forgot about Gods of Egypt) performance as Lawson; he is almost pathologically wooden, both when delivering scientific jargon and emoting his love for his brother and family. Sturgess is hot on his heels with his impressively hammy acting and general chewing of the scenery.

Some of the big names in the movie, like Andy Garcia (who plays the president), as well as relative newcomers such as Talitha Bateman (Lawson’s daughter, Hannah) and Zazie Beetz (Max’s assistant), are criminally underutilised, despite stealing almost every scene they’re in.

Although we’re never actually told what a geostorm is, the heavy-handed implication is that it is a catastrophe on a global scale. With destruction happening in every corner of the world, the whole map becomes oversimplified. Dubai is depicted as a place where rich oil sheikhs and white businesspeople meet to discuss trade deals; Mumbai is flattened into a caricature of a flea market; Hong Kong a neon-lit metropolis where somehow people can go from Mong Kok to North Point without actually crossing the harbour.

Despite some bright moments of genuinely engaging action and banter, the majority of the narrative and plotting is spotty and overly simplified, with people saving the world “just because”, and where a naive moral purity is responsible for basically every action taken by every character. It’s bad not because of anyone, or anything, but a combination of bad acting, bad writing, and an empty message. In other words, a perfect storm.

Edited by Ginny Wong