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Hurricane Heist (4K Ultra HD), The
I had high hopes that auteur-of-junk Rob Cohen, purveyor of immortal classics like The Fast and the Furious, The Skulls and xXx, was back in fighting shape with The Hurricane Heist. Unfortunately, the scant theatrical release should have been a sign this one was doomed from the beginning; despite its lively cast and some decent effects for a $35-million flick. This is basically a direct-to-video film that basically did go direct to video. It is no better or worse than what you might find in the bargain bins of Wal-Mart alongside a pack of Oreos someone left behind. I like Maggie Grace though; thank goodness Liam Neeson saved her from being taken.
Things start happening quickly after the studio logos. Brothers Will and Breeze Rutledge evacuate a Category 5 hurricane with their dad, who does not survive the storm. After he is sucked into the sky, there is literally a demonic face digitally inserted into the clouds. This is one sassy hurricane! Right away I am on board, because this movie is going to be campy as hell, but the remainder of the 103-minute running time is a lot more grounded, sadly. United States Treasury Agent Casey Corbyn (Grace) is in charge of $600 million in cash until it is taken out of circulation and destroyed. This is, of course, necessary to do on the day when another deadly hurricane is barreling toward the Alabama town. A couple of rogue treasury agents, including Connor Perkins (Ralph Ineson), decide to capitalize on the impending weather and steal the money, and Casey calls on the adult Will (Toby Kebbell), now a meteorologist, for help. He agrees when he learns Breeze (Ryan Kwanten) has been captured by the criminals.
Cohen has never been a director concerned with intimate character building, subtle drama or realistic action sequences. He goes big, loud and over the top whenever possible. There is a fair amount of chest-beating in The Hurricane Heist, which is not unexpected, but I wish the film had a little more fun with its ludicrous premise. You can tell the filmmakers had to cut corners with the relatively small budget. The weather is largely reduced to background noise during much of the film, as the characters wander around a local mall and the bowels of the treasury facility. And if you call a movie The Hurricane Heist, I want to see some hurricanes, dammit. That's not to say there isn't any category-five action; it just comes in small doses. What is present is not unpleasant, and there are a few decent effects shots during these sequences.
Grace seems to be having a decent time here, as do her male co-stars. Cohen does well at corralling B-list actors and making them halfway presentable, and such is the case here with Kwanten, Ineson and Ben Cross, who plays a sneaky sheriff. The movie drags in its midsection, which caused me to lose interest in the finale. I knew the movie was not over at the hour mark, but I did not really care about the subsequent road chase through the eye of the hurricane. As expected, wads of cash start flying. Ultimately, The Hurricane Heist is innocuous and forgettable. It appears this was produced with the assistance of a number of smaller financiers, and the film has all the ambitions of an Asylum production like Sharknado without the overt campy thrills. Catch it on cable or let The Hurricane Heist blow by; the choice is yours.
THE 4K ULTRA HD:
This is not a reference quality 4K presentation due to several flaws in the 2.39:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 image with HDR10. This digitally shot production had a 2K digital intermediate, so this is an upscale. I will spare you the long-winded commentary, but 4K Ultra HD presentations can still provide upgrades over Blu-ray when the source is 2K. This is not a great looking film in general, and the 4K suffers from excessive digital noise and banding. There are several lower-light scenes in which digital noise, and possibly compression artifacts, is readily apparent behind characters and in backgrounds. There is also a fair bit of motion blur and quite a few edge haloes and plastic-looking faces due to digital sharpening. The 4K does offer an uptick in detail from the Blu-ray, and there are certain scenes that look quite good, as the 4K increases the depth, clarity and atmosphere of these shots. Black levels are decent, colors get a slight boost in HDR, and highlights rarely bloom. Overall, this is a pretty average image for the format.
I sampled the Dolby Atmos mix in 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, and was more impressed with the soundtrack than the visuals. The mix is atmospheric and aggressive, with plenty of effects pans and near-constant ambient effects thanks to the swirling winds and driving rain. Dialogue is clear and balanced, and is integrated effectively with effects and score. Of note is the aggressive use of the LFE channel, which thumps along quite vigorously during the action sequences. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc release includes the 4K disc and a Blu-ray, along with a code to redeem UltraViolet HD and iTunes digital copies. The discs are packed in a black 4K case that is wrapped in a slipcover. The extras, found on the Blu-ray, include an Audio Commentary by Director Rob Cohen; Eye of the Storm (17:44/HD), an extended EPK-style piece with interviews and on-set footage; Hollywood Heist: A Conversation with Rob Cohen (23:45/HD), which covers the director's unconventional career; a VFX Reel (3:52/HD); and Deleted Scenes (2:11/HD).
If The Hurricane Heist had maintained the pace and tone of its opening scene, it may have been a better movie. As it stands, this Rob Cohen actioner is a competent direct-to-video film that had a minor theatrical release. The 4K image will not blow you away, but the Atmos track might. Rent It.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.