Why Twister is the greatest action movie ever made
Anne-iversaries is a bi-weekly column by writer Anne T. Donahue that explores and celebrates the pop culture that defined the ’90s and 2000s and how it affects us today (with, of course, a few personal anecdotes in course).
Contains strong language.
When Tornado came out in May 1996, my parents made it very clear: I wasn’t going to see it. They claimed that the special effects would mark me emotionally. They said that I would be traumatized by death and destruction, and that the language used in a movie like Tornado was not suitable for children. But more effectively, they reminded me that whenever we got a storm warning, I would melt and panic, convinced my family was going to die (often begging them to join me in the basement steps).
What I probably should have argued is that while all of their points are technically valid, Tornado would be the remedy. The adventure film directed by Jan de Bont was not just about bad weather. It was a question of relationships. About recovery from trauma. About friendship, steak and eggs, and flying cows. They were scientists and human barometers. It was, to put it plainly, the purest (and greatest) action ever.
The premise of Tornado is, of course, ridiculous. Bill (Bill Paxton), a former storm chaser turned meteorologist, brings his fiancee, Melissa, to get the divorce papers from his ex-wife, Jo (Helen Hunt). She hasn’t signed them, but she and her team are about to embark on a 24-hour streak of pure, unadulterated storm-hunting streak. Does Bill want to join them? No, but also: yes. So he reunites with his former pursuit team, hoping he’ll be there when their cutting-edge tracking technology gets sucked into a vortex and helps them understand how tornadoes happen. For Jo, this shit is personal. As a child, she saw her father succumb to the aspiration of a crooked monster, and she will not rest until she helps introduce an early warning system to the masses. Plus, she and Bill still love each other, which is obvious to everyone, including the bovine that overtakes them in a nightmarish attack. (“I have to go, Julie, we have cows!”)
In the midst of chaos, Tornado It’s awesome. Helen Hunt isn’t beautified or seen dragging in her heels, trying to outrun the clouds while maintaining a blowout. Above all, she’s a fucking scientist – an Oklahomian veteran whose obsession with storms requires putting the weather above all else and making friendships with like-minded people who are also smart as funny. Helen Hunt, to my young heart and to my adult too, still looks like a movie star but exudes the maturity of a seasoned adult woman, struggling with heartache and grief and a very pronounced fear of vulnerability. It is interesting and it is damaged. She is exactly the one who should lead a team of storm chasers.
Which, moreover, only adds to the magnetism of Tornado. Each of Jo’s (and formerly Bill’s) contemporaries doesn’t have much history, but we are still given enough to know their purpose and personality. We learn who helps Jo navigate roads and routes, who captures tornadoes on camera, and who may look like The Dude, but can tell the tornado facts better than anyone. And that helps make the team chemistry warm and natural. Whether they gather at Aunt Meg’s for breakfast or come together to save Aunt Meg from the aftermath of a tornado she barely survives, we feel like everyone gets along and really cares. others. In fact, the only competition we see among scientists is that between Jo’s team and that of Jonas (Carey Elwes), a hunter who has opted for sponsorships rather than keeping his research independent. And even then, everyone still does their best to help save Jonas after he gets in the way of a tornado. The common villain? Damn time, which frankly is all of us bad guys.
But it does Tornado particularly pure 25 years later. Besides the relationships and the jokes and the way he tried to teach us a little something about tornadoes, a movie like this just couldn’t exist today. Thanks to social media and the abundance of hunters looking for cool weather reveal shots, Storm Hunting as featured by Tornado is now obsolete. Yes, teams still exist, but no one is looking at a paper map anymore or relying on Bill Paxton’s intuition to guide them on the right path (or at least away from the dangerous one). And frankly, the innocence of doing everything for the sake of science above all else is a precious and wonderful thing. Who cares about Instagram likes or viral posts? Give me tornadic knowledge or give me death.
By the time I finally saw Tornado months after my parents’ initial ban, I was still afraid of storms – but after watching it, I began to see my fear as something that I could conquer with knowledge. I started reading tornado books, memorizing telltale signs you were about to strike, and screaming masses of clouds that I knew could make funnel clouds. or water jets. Was I fun or cool? Not even slightly. But for the first time in my young, stupid life, I felt a little in control.
And I didn’t feel like this joie de vivre or science had an expiration date. Because one of the best things about Tornado This is how adulthood seems less boring or tedious than is usually described. Instead of revolving around adults preventing their only child from watching Helen Hunt’s best work, it presents adult life as a life full of adventure and excitement – a life in which you can be reckless and brave and outrun an F5 on your own. feet. Tornado is not a youth-centric movie or based on the myth that stories like this are for kids; instead, it’s a movie that promises friendships, love, and Van Halen always have a place the further you go. Whether it’s in the tornado alley or not is up to you.