Into the Storm

Directed By: Steven Quale

Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, and Arien Escarpeta

Like clockwork, the month of August routinely amounts to a cesspool of cinematic mediocrity.  This weekend is quickly proving to be the ultimate example of this.  Despite four movies arriving at the mainstream box office this weekend, I'm not impressed with a single new arrival.  Unfortunately, this is likely to hold true for the next several weeks.  There's no Guardians of the Galaxy on the horizon, just the sub-par movies Hollywood has to get out of its queue.  Take this weekend's Into the Storm for instance.  It's a pointless big budget spectacle about some damn tornadoes.

It's graduation day at Silverton High in Oklahoma.  To commemorate the festivities, Gary (Richard Armitage), the vice principal, has instructed his two teenage sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress) to conduct a series of interviews around the school and around town to create a video time capsule they all can revisit in 25 years.  Afterward, they will record the commencement ceremonies.  Things don't go exactly as their father has planned, however.  Choosing to seize the moment and pursue a girl he likes named Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Donnie opts to ditch the graduation ceremony, leaving Trey to handle everything.

Meanwhile, the Titus team storm chasers are looking for the next big tornado. With plenty of activity on this fateful day, Pete (Matt Walsh) doesn't want to miss his chance to get a peek at what only God has seen to date.  This is key to the success of his upcoming documentary.  With this in mind, he's putting plenty of pressure on his researcher Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies).  However, the two frequently clash because of differences in their approach.  Pete is a man who prefers to follow his instincts, while Allison is far more scientific and prefers to follow the data.  Though Pete wants to go to Riverside where all the other storm chasers are headed, Allison convinces him to go to the town of Silverton.  This puts them straight on course to encounter tornadoes unlike anything either of them have ever seen.  It also puts them on course to meet Gary and his boys on this stormy day.

It's been ten years since The Day After Tomorrow arrived in theaters, and I've still yet to see a new climate-related disaster movie to top it.  With a disjointed narrative, underdeveloped characters, and a half-baked message about mankind and climate change, the found footage flick Into the Storm certainly does not do so.  The storm is the story, and there's not much else to the film.  The actors are just props, and the tornadoes are the real stars.  While spectacle is key in a disaster movie, there should be more to the film than this.  Sadly, this is not the case here.  Moreover, Into the Storm is all special effects and no plot.

What's nice about disaster movies is that there's often some explanation written into the films about why certain things are happening.  More often than not, some character is generally trying to solve the film's central problem by first understanding it.  It really helps to immerse the viewer in a fictional apocalyptic world.  In The Day After Tomorrow, for instance, Dennis Quaid's Jack Hall thrives on understanding the massive storm system that plagues the northern hemisphere.  Here in Into the Storm, however, our storm chasers just say a twister is coming and leave it at that.  There's no meaningful attempt to explain why the storm is happening.  Instead, the filmmakers offer a halfhearted, undercooked message about climate change and how weather is intensifying because of it.  If Into the Storm had any hopes of standing in the company of other solid disaster movies, it needs to offer a decent explanation for why the hell anything happens in the movie.  Simply having tornadoes isn't enough.

Into the Storm fails because director Steven Quale and his screenwriters bring the tornadoes but not a damn thing else.  The movie is a spectacle, but not in the way filmmakers desired.  Without a strong narrative, well-developed characters, or a coherent message, the film amounts to nothing more than big budget mediocrity to the tune of $50 million.  Into the Storm gets a 0.09% rating.  With a movie about storms, you need a drink with a tropical vibe.  Have a few mango margaritas with this one.