Twisters Review

Five years after a traumatic incident while chasing a tornado, Oklahoma native Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is summoned home by old colleague Javi (Anthony Ramos) to test a new tracking system that could save thousands of lives.

by Beth Webb |
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For a generation, Jan de Bont’s 1996 rip-roaring tornado rager Twister was a definitive movie-going experience. A white-knuckle spectacle that practically made you feel the wind whipping through your hair, it also, through its pack of rogue, impassioned meteorologists, made weather cool.

Nearly 30 years later, Twisters (like Aliens, a pluralised sequel) embarks on a similar mission, following largely in its predecessor’s tyre tracks but with a few fresh tune-ups. Weather still handily exists, but bolstered by global warming has led to an angry succession of tornadoes wreaking havoc across Oklahoma. The sequel’s opening set-piece shows one in all its glory and violence and, with all the stakes and suspense of a horror film, sets the film off on a harrowing note that’s powerful enough to derail the lives of knowledge-hungry pals Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Javi (Anthony Ramos).


Yet the pull of purpose is too strong, and so with Javi’s spiffy new equipment and Ivy League-educated team, Kate tentatively returns to the eye of the storm, her goal being to “kill a tornado” and help others where she couldn’t before. However, this time they’re not alone, as a social-media-fuelled convoy of chasers, led by “science cowboy” Tyler (Glen Powell), are in the business of performing perilous stunts for likes and subscribes.

Simply put, Twisters wears its Big Summer Movie heart on its sleeve.

At the helm is Lee Isaac Chung, best known for his last film, the subtle, sun-washed immigrant tale Minari. As follow-up films go, this may not have seemed the most predictable, and yet as Twisters settles deeper into its rural landscapes and deep-rooted communities, the partnership clicks into place. This feels like a lived-in Oklahoma; in a scene set during a rodeo, you can all but smell the leather and manure. Minari — which was also shot on location in Oklahoma — was an aspirational story about the American dream. Twisters entrenches its characters in that idealistic America, enriching their motivations beyond danger, money or attention.


It’s a killer if overstuffed line-up of actors playing the clashing parties. Powell is the megawatts linchpin, bringing a hearty dollop of that Hangman cockiness and capability saved over from Top Gun: Maverick. Then there’s the slow-burn, delightful chemistry with Edgar-Jones as Tyler’s boy-next-door charms push through his screen-friendly veneer. The blockbuster is new turf for the Normal People actor, but you wouldn’t think it to watch her intuitively navigate the film’s huge scale while keeping her character’s PTSD barely below the surface. Kate’s sixth sense for storms, which she’s had since childhood, could be corny in the wrong hands, but the actor’s forthright presence gives it weight.

The expansive supporting cast is used to varying degrees of effect. Ramos’ conflicted Javi, who works for a shady businessman, has less to chew on but proves a magnetic presence regardless, and Nope breakout Brandon Perea brings an affable scrappiness to Tyler’s wired right-hand man, Boone. But Love Lies Bleeding star Katy O’Brian does little more than wear the hell out of a cowboy hat, and while it’s amusing to watch future Superman David Corenswet play the token dickwad, the character is ultimately disposable.


Where the film underserves certain characters, it more than delivers on action. The concept of upgrading a tornado may seem like a strange one, but the sequel pulls it off with visual flourishes that range from terrifying to outrageously good fun. Steven Spielberg has an executive producer credit under his Amblin banner, and you can feel echoes of his work in the thrill of the thrashing rain and the ginormous, relentless cylinders of destruction as the human drama boils over below. All is captured on film, with the dark-grey wash of the storms balanced with lush greens and sunny hues while the weather pauses for breath.

Simply put, Twisters wears its Big Summer Movie heart on its sleeve. The score is rousing and righteous, the star power at times overwhelming to look at directly (to clarify, Powell walking through a downpour in a white T-shirt serves absolutely no narrative purpose). Powell being reunited with Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski — here on story-writing duty — feels like no coincidence; Cruise may be absent, but Twisters effectively throws every other adrenaline-pumping cinematic tool in its bolted-down wheelhouse at you. At one point, our heroes are quite literally ushering crowds into a movie theatre for shelter. And you’d do well to join them.

With Edgar-Jones and Powell’s fizzing appeal at its epicentre, Twisters at once feels like a testament to a new generation of stars and a gripping old-school movie event. Feel it. Watch it.
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