I’ve been mulling about how to approach this post for a few weeks now and now think that after some helpful re-grounding in our course principles and ideas I feel confident in retuning to the blog with this strand of thinkING.
A while back I started seeing commercials and ads on both television and online for a now in theaters action-heist film, The Hurricane Heist. The trailer especially caught my attention:
With tag-lines/catchphrases such as “#Make It Rain” and “It’s a hell of a day, ain’t it?” complimented by Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane” playing in the background, it is hard to not feel strictly scornful and resentful towards the producers/directors/writers/creators of the film. To resist this purely emotional urge I found that it was important for me to ground myself in our course texts, take a closer look at the film’s surrounding language in its synopsis, and understand the attention that this film has gotten in the public sphere as a performance of memory.
A portion of the synopsis of the film reads, “A crew of thieves plans the ultimate heist, to steal $600 million from the U.S. treasury facility located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama using a hurricane as their cover. When the storm blows up into a lethal Category 5 and their well-made plans go awry, they find themselves needing a vault code known by only one female treasury agent . A need that turns murderous…” The language used in this description of the movie called my attention to the egregious performance of waste that this film presents itself as. By associating itself with catastrophe and death and not recognizing the true potential danger that natural disasters pose, it plays out a “narrative of of abandonment, a public performance of forgetting.” (Roach, 45)
After reading the film’s synopsis I also looked into Alabama’s association with Hurricane Katrina, as this film’s description of itself drew my attention once again to the fact that Hurricane Katrina did not solely affect the people of New Orleans, and I found that hundreds of thousands of people lost power during the storm and extensive damage was done to infrastructure with many homes being flooded or swept away. I cannot help but call to memory the images of decimated homes from When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts and associate The Hurricane Heist as being the antithesis of Spike Lee’s piece of art.
The Hurricane Heist definitely falls into the hyper-violent, over-the-top, disaster film genre that American movie-goers flock to in theaters, one that includes equally as outrageous movies such as Independence Day (1996), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), and Sharknado (2013). So far, however people who have seen this new film have not been all that impressed and right now it only as a 48% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4.9 out of 10 on IMDB. This reception makes me wonder if the audience realizes that it may be ‘too soon’ for a film like this to hit theaters after this past summer’s devastating Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. Then again, Roach points out that we tend to forget very quickly and that our “most readily available medium of cultural recollection and invention [is] performance.” (Roach, 58) I definitely invite anyone who has gone out and seen this film to respond or rebuke anything that I’ve articulated here, as I still feel that the existence of this film in and of itself has a lot to say about how we remember and forget so easily and quickly and there is potentially a lot more to analyze and look into in relation to disaster films in general.