Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
Starring Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, David Denman, Hope Davis, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, Andrew Bachelor, Merrin Dungey, Holt McCallany, Gary Weeks, Tracey Bonner, Joshua Mikel, Cate Jones, Mike Gassaway, Anissa Matlock, Randall Archer, Scott Poythress, Claire Bronson, and Madison Johnson.
A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.
Given the history of recent Gerard Butler B-grade action flicks I half expected that Greenland would see the scruffy and imposing physical specimen of an actor find some way to take out the comet by either screaming at it or punching it in a violent drunken rage (like say his Den of Thieves character or just about anyone he plays). And while that does sound, for better or worse, entertaining, director Ric Roman Waugh (a regular collaborator of these Gerard Butler doomsday spectacles) has decided to use the comet as more of a framing device than anything, focusing on how such a cataclysmic scenario would bring out the worst traits of society similar to the actual global health crisis we are fighting through daily.
Working as an engineer, Gerard Butler’s John Garrity and his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) are just two of the lucky ones selected by the Department of Homeland Security to be flown off to a secluded base that, based on some kind of science, will give a portion of humanity a chance to survive. Their friends and relatives are not selected, subsequently followed up by a surprisingly emotional scene where a woman pleads with them to take her young child with them to the military base. Unfortunately, they can’t for multiple reasons. It also gives Gerard Butler the rare chance to show some range himself as he is clearly not happy with the decision he is making but is forced into.
John and Allison have a young boy of their own to look after named Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) who, to those paying attention, was not named on the Amber alert style notice. That’s because he has an insulin problem and the government only wants to protect the healthiest individuals. Complicating matters further is the fact that John and Allison have been drifting apart for some time, seemingly only sticking out the marriage for Nathan, and now must come together stronger than ever before to survive a potential mass extinction.
As they are trying to get on the plane that will take them to their last bastion of hope, John forgets the insulin in the car. He decides to run back and go get it, but as you can probably imagine it’s not long before they are completely separated and the military is not letting Nathan on board. Stranded and disconnected, the family must fight their way through everything from riots to those seeking to steal the color-coded wristbands guaranteeing a trip to shelter. The action is impressive both on the ground and in the background, with Gerard Butler supplying the visceral brutality as explosions wreak havoc all over the place. It’s as loud as a Michael Bay movie, but one that’s actually watchable and somewhat reflective of society’s behavior when disaster strikes.
The throughline regarding the parents rekindling their connection in the face of global catastrophe is somewhat cheesy, but it’s the kind of cheese a movie like Greenland needs to deliver. The few and far between touching beats are mere pleasant surprises that know not to get in the way of the grounded reality of chaos on Earth. For as much as I felt like I was watching an uncovered gem from the 90s, Greenland is also a movie befitting of its time that utilizes a pandemic dynamic tastefully unlike a certain piece of garbage that was released last week. There’s also the added bonus that the action is quite literally nonstop once it gets going. Who knew what we could have used all this time was a brainless Gerard Butler flick; it has more heart and substance than you might be led to believe.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com