VOD film review: Into the Storm
James R | On 16, Dec 2014
Director: Steven Quale
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh
Watch Into the Storm online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Love storms? Love Richard Armitage? Then you might enjoy Into the Storm. The film tells the dramatic, intense, disastrous story of what happens when Richard Armitage goes… Into the Storm. And not much else.
Silverton is a small, happy town. There is a high school. There are kids. There is a graduation ceremony for some of these kids. Said young, defenceless kids are standing outside at the graduation ceremony at the high school. But their celebrations will be cut short when all of the kids have to throw their hats up… Into the Storm.
The head teacher of the school is Richard Armitage (let’s not pretend these characters are substantial enough to have names). He has two children. One of them is a Troublemaking Son. One of them is a Nerdy Son, who has a crush on a Popular Girl. Both have been asked by Richard Armitage to film graduation day on handheld cameras for reasons. But when Troublemaking Son convinces Nerdy Son to help Popular Girl shoot an application for college at a deserted mill just as a hurricane hits, the stage is set for dangerous repercussions. Will Nerdy Son bond with Popular Girl? Will Troublemaking Son prove to his dad he’s trustworthy after all? Will Richard Armitage be able to reunite with Nerdy Son, when he tries to find him by going out… Into the Storm?
Across town, meanwhile, a team of twister chasers arrive in an armoured tank, carrying their own supply of video cameras. Will Angry Determined Boss and Nervous Employee 1 listen to Brainy Woman’s scientific advice? Will they get the footage they need to make a documentary when they drive… Into the Storm?
Director Steven Quale’s film wins no points for brains or intelligence. The problem is that it doesn’t always win them for presentation either. We spend the first half of the (commendably short) runtime waiting for the storm to hit, during which the found footage concept is well established. But when the second half arrives, all sense of realism is blown out of the window as the production team go… Into the Storm.
We cut regularly to overhead shots filmed by no one in particular – any use of local news crews to provide aerial coverage is soon abandoned – and see Nerdy Son and Popular Girl trapped in the abandoned mill from a third person perspective, despite Nerdy Son often holding the lens. That inconsistency undermines the movie’s attempts at sincerity, be it the Skype chats Brainy Woman has with her distant daughter, the emotional messages left on tape by the scared students or, worse, the family bonding lectures given to camera by Richard Armitage and his sons – regardless of how good the actors are at heading… Into the Storm.
Armitage and his co-stars all put in solid performances, running, screaming and holding onto things with aplomb, but with no clear narrative logic, the film’s sentimentality and cliches never really ring true. Even the trashiness is delivered without irony – one standout moment where Armitage’s rear end is sucked up through a manhole cover is destined to be played back in slow-motion by family and friends every Christmas. The frequent appearances of a Stereotypical Comic Relief Duo (daredevil stunt-boys with a love of Jackass and little else in their brains) also feel false, with their dated, lazy humour more typical of the 1995 Power Rangers Movie than a film made in 2014. They are only made more annoying by their persistent ability to survive no matter how many times they dive recklessly… Into the Storm.
It is credit to Quale and his production team, though, that they get one part of the film right: the bit where they take us… you know where.
Despite the film’s relatively low budget, the hurricane tears apart buildings, cars, bikes and trees with frenetic force – a blend of CGI and live-action that actually manages to intimidate. “It’s the biggest storm there’s ever been!” cries Brainy Woman as the hurricane splits into four like some kind of Super Hurricane. You may not buy that, but you certainly believe it’s very windy. Even a shot of airplanes crashing into each other – showcased heavily in the film’s trailer – is pulled off. If the storm were the only focus of the film, it would be an undoubted success. But this is a movie about going into it – the script tries (and fails) to make us give a damn about the people undertaking the journey.
For fans of Thorin from The Hobbit or the BBC series Spooks, there is a very basic, primitive thrill to be found amid the unabashed chaos, but that’s about it. For better or worse, this is a film in which Richard Armitage goes Into the Storm. And not much else.
Into the Storm is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.