Review: Twister (1996)

Director: Jan de Bont | 113 minutes | action, drama, thriller, adventure | Actors: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Sean Whalen, Scott Thomson, Todd Field, Joey Slotnick, Wendle Josepher, Jeremy Davies, Zach Grenier, Gregory Sporleder

In ‘Twister’ Jo and Bill Harding are on the verge of divorce. Bill has said goodbye to tornado hunting and with it to his wife Jo and the team of specialists with whom they have been traveling and working for years. Today he earns his living as a television weather forecaster. He wants to force Jo to finally sign the divorce papers so that he can marry his new love Melissa (Jami Gertz). After a lot of hassle, he therefore tries it with a personal visit. However, Jo slows things down again by showing Bill the machines she had built to his design. The devices are aptly named ‘Dorothy’ and also feature an image of Judy Garland from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939). They are filled with sensors that have to be sucked up by a tornado, after which data is released for scientific research. Then a meteorological alert comes in and Jo and her team head for it. Bill waves to them, but then notices that Jo still has the divorce papers with him and quickly gets into the car. Once on the hunt it is difficult to forget his old hobby and his love for Jo is not yet a thing of the past.

‘Twister’ is a cinematic version of an exciting, heartwarming boy’s book. Not the kind of techno thriller that books by Michael Crichton are often used for, but just nice to watch. Just the way Bill is brought in as the prodigal son at the outset by the various team members and the close mutual bond they have, clearly conveys the clubbing feeling of a bunch of guys ready for any adventure. Helen Hunt is therefore a tough guy in this film for whom it all can’t get rough enough and the beautiful, very feminine Melissa must of course lose it to her.

Also the enemies against and against whom to fight are of great size, as it should be in a good boys’ book. There is a rival group led by the arrogant Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes). He stole Bill’s idea for the machines with sensors and also has a much larger budget, allowing him to afford high-tech equipment and expensive, black (!) Cars. The tornadoes are the other enemy. They are spectacularly portrayed and have an unpredictable and capricious character which makes them elusive and exciting as an opponent. A nice and exciting film that pretends little more than to provide pure, heartwarming entertainment and then does it to the fullest.

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