By Gary Murray

Starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh

Written by John Swetnam

Directed by Steven Quale

Running time 89 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Dollar


Ever since Dorothy found out that we’re not in Kansas anymore, there has always been a cinematic fascination with tornados.  The finger of God comes down and wreaks havoc on the countryside, causing death in its wake this just disappears as mysteriously as they came…  They are unpredictable and can leave behind misery for all those in the path.  It is tragedy that makes for interesting cinema.  A few years ago, we had Twister and now we have Into the Storm.  Same premise, different victims and now everyone has a camera.

The slight story is told in that first-person bouncing camera style but this time many of our amateur cameramen have tripods.  So the bumping and jiggling is down to a minimum.

Actually, Into the Storm two different stories that blend together.  One story is of storm chasers led by Pete (Matt Walsh).  He has been on the path of tornadoes for years and wants to get that perfect shot, from the inside eye of a twister.  He drives an outfitted tank called Titus which can film from every angle and be anchored down.  It is supposed to be able to handle winds of 170 MPH and stay put. 

Part of his team is scientist Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) a woman who has been studying these phenomena for years.  Her gut tells her to go to the little village of Silverton to catch that big event.  She believes that is where the next big storm will hit and a storm brews all around

The other side of the plot involves Vice-principal Gary (Richard Armitage) and his two teenage sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kess).  The three struggle as a family ever since their mom died.  Gary has been pushing the boys to make a video time capsule of the ending school year with the focus on the day’s graduation ceremony.  As the kids get ready to walk, a storm brews all around.

Donnie has a forever crush on Katelyn (Alycia Debnam Carey) local hot girl in the media club.  She wants to be a serious journalist and has a story about an abandoned chemical mill outside of town that is full of toxins.  Her footage has been corrupted by faulty media and Donnie volunteers to re-shoot her story and, believe it or not, a storm brews all around.

Two redneck hillbilly guys are trying to do stunts that will make them famous on the internet.  As the film starts, they try and jump an ATV over a burning above-ground pool.  With just enough alcohol and just a little bit less common sense, they film the adventure, destroying everything in their path.  Beyond their exploits, a storm brews all around    

All of these events are being tied together as a storm brews all around.  The film uses everyone’s single video images to tell the event of a tornado of such magnitude that it is off the measuring scale. 

Into the Storm is exactly the film one would expect.  It is not so much film-making as it is an excuse for special effects.  Much like the disaster film from decades ago, it is a film to show wanton destruction and not much else.  In one of the coolest moments, a twister sucks up a burning gas station and makes something that one images in the worst depths of Hell.  This is a special effects junkie’s dream picture, loads of mayhem and not much more to keep the audience interested.

Sarah Wayne Callies was great on Prison Break and delivers much of the same work here.  She is more of supporting cast-member to a big CGI storm but always looks good in bad weather. 

Matt Walsh has the most interesting character arc of all the principles.  He is our Ahab hunting down that great white whale, which in this case is a twister.  His steadfast resolve will be his undoing and we are along for the ride. 

Easily the best in the secondary cast is our two hillbilly red-neck guys played by Jon Reep and Kyle Davis.  They steal the show with their drunken antics, giving much needed comic relief to the proceedings.  An entire film could be made using these secondary characters.  

The part I hated the most is the forced love story between Katelyn and Donnie.  They get trapped together in the flattened mill and water rushes all around them.  We have seen this so many times before and done so much better.  As these two videotape their goodbyes to friends and family, everyone wishes that the crushing waves will just do them in.  It is mind-altering maudlin and easily the worst part of the film.

Since everyone is going to compare it to Twister is makes sense to put it in that category.  The film has much better special effects that Twister, but it doesn’t have the better story.  If you are going to see it, take it in on a big screen in a theater, watching it on television will not do the special effects justice.  Into the Storm is exactly what one expects it will be. 

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