Director: by Dean Devlin
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris
It is a fleeting image, but enough for us to believe that in this film , which may be about climate change and yet not really concerned with it, may be about the US’s abrasive hegemony and yet about all-American heroes, may be about outliers and yet all about American presidents, may be about space and yet only about a space station, someone has a sense of humour. While making a case for how the world has to come together to create a network of satellites — which will control the weather, now that climate change has ruined it — the film talks about how “one man alone” can’t do it. And up on the screen is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It’s impressive, given that moments later, Geostorm talks about a desert called ‘Registan’ in Afghanistan. Much, much later, the film ventures towards Mumbai as the world is collapsing only to show a distraught slum boy trying to save a street dog (where have you seen that before?). They are the only poor to feature in this end-of-the-world scenario.
Which is to say we don’t count Butler’s Jake Lawson as one — despite the disheveled, unkempt, rebel appearance he sports while saving the world. He is the scientist who builds that satellite network, dubbed ‘Dutch Boy’, and when it starts malfunctioning, thus bringing snow to deserts and sunshine to Moscow, Lawson is brought back to repair it. If one Lawson brother goes stomping his angry boots to space — Jake had earlier been removed unceremoniously, for taking on “ignorant politicians” — the junior Lawson brother holds the fort on the ground. Max Lawson (Sturgess, better groomed) is one of the US State Department “suits”, and is trying to control the damage before the control of this network of satellites passes into the hands of a consortium of countries.
There are 17 of them in this consortium, headed by the US and China, and prominently including India. Not that politics, geography, chemistry or physics matters when the whole plot is eventually laid out, with the climate change just a sexy hook to hang the story on. Garcia and Harris play the US President and his Secretary of State, and while who wouldn’t want to see Andy Garcia in the White House, director-writer Devlin is clearly more interested in Butler’s sulky and debatable skills, especially as a scientist.
And while all that talk of world cooperation is impressive, it eventually does come down to one man saving the world. With America, once again called upon to be — let the drums roll — “the shining city upon a hill”.