Running Time: 119 minutes
Written by: Chris Sparling
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Featuring: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, David Denman and Hope Davis
John Garrity: “I swear, I’m going to get my family into that bunker.“
Clayton: “I know you will, John.”
Released last week to on-demand services is the latest Gerard Butler action movie “Greenland” (2020), a fairly uninspiring run of the mill genre movie that sits within the mediocre range of output one has come to expect from the Scottish actor who has made a living after a surprisingly good start to his career that someone like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme used to occupy, in a post millennial milieu of equal standing.
Movies that are based around an apocalyptic event are not new at all, in fact they have been around for decades, arguably reaching their height during the Cold War where the science fiction genre would routinely have plots about mankind coming to an end from shapeshifting aliens, to asteroids hitting gar Earth, to nuclear war, in fact there were any number of ways we were going to reach our end. “Greenland” occupies that sub genre of story where parts of a comet are going to make plane fall, wiping out humanity. It is fairly de rigour in these movies for mankind to try and destroy the offending objects thereby avoiding calamity, although as we have progressed in our movie watching it has become common for some of the objects to crash, thereby making use of state of the effects to show cities being blown to bits, just look at the two of the most famous asteroid movies ever in “Deep Impact” (1998) and Armageddon” (1998) where see Paris and Washington being blown to bits.
However it wasn’t really until “2012” (2009) that we saw the destruction (mostly) of the Earth and how some of the lucky people might survive, in arks of a sort, the Biblical elements of this movie are all over it and none too subtle. Of course the best way to attempt to do something new is to take two ideas and meld them together which never really works as there was probably a reason why they were seperate in the first place which brings us to “Greenland” basically a movie that takes the aforementioned “Deep Impact” and “2012” but without any of the humour, rationalism and fantasy, while at the same time making it serious, po-faced as well as actually quite boring and paint by numbers, kind of similar to much of Butler’s work over the past fifteen years.
Written by Chris Sparling who seems to have made a career taking others previous successful ideas, changing them slightly then writing screenplays that are then produced to some modicum of success. It is completely obvious to those with even a passing knowledge of this genre how this movie is going to unfold with all of its obvious plot points and coincidences that make the narrative move along at a somewhat brisk pace with an ending that is almost a duplicate of the ending to “2012”. Added to this is the director Ric Roman Waugh who is mediocre at best and worked with Butler last on the sequel “Angel has fallen” (2018), which despite being an uninspired movie with a pedestrian plot and again ludicrous plot points was a box office hit internationally, meaning there will be more to come. Waugh who can obviously direct is here hampered by a narrative that hinges on silly science as well as coincidences that once they start occurring seem like they should have been corrected in further drafts, but this is lower common denominator film-making at its best (worst?).
“Greenland” is based around John Garrity a Scottish architect living in Atlanta, Georgia with his estranged wife, Allison, and their diabetic son, Nathan. The family prepares to host a party with their neighbors to watch the passing of an interstellar comet, named Clarke. Arriving at a grocery store to pick up last-minute items before the party, John and Nathan notice a fleet of military cargo transport jets flying north in formation. In the store, John receives a strange automated phone call from the Department of Homeland Security, informing him that he and his family have been pre-selected for emergency sheltering.
Led by Gerard Butler who now has his Scottish accent built into his movies, here plays the same kind of person we have seen from any number of his movies which means for his fans you know exactly what you are getting. Very little in the way of building a character instead a broader version of the hero who has a wife and a son, he is of course estranged and his child has a sickness, thereby creating some kind of tension even before the comet hits, making it easy not only for Butler but for his wife played by Morena Baccarin, his son by Roger Dale Floyd. Both supporting actors have very little to do except for being in danger, shouting and crying, something many of Butlers have to do in opposite him in any number of movies.
If you can buy what this movie is selling, that a comet could come close to Earth with bits breaking off, for no apparent reason, and that no-one would pick up on that it was not going to hit where the authorities said it was going to and that a government could keep a secret about bunkers for the chosen few then this is for you. Not only that but the narrative is told from one family’s perspective and that they would be enough jeopardy to get split up then someone find their way back together all the while making up for their past mistakes as well as finding their way to another continent to live for nine months to emerge to a bruised planet then you win twice.
However, for me there is just too much absurdity going on to make this enjoyable or even a guilty pleasure, it just boggles me how this was made and how anyone could think it would be successful in theatres. I probably would not even recommend it as a watch on a service like Netflix or Dinsey+, stay well clear.