- Emma Simmonds
- 4 February 2021
Star Gerard Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh reunite for a pretty decent disaster flick
A decent director getting hold of a disaster movie makes all the difference, especially given that the genre itself trades so heavily in formula and fear. Ric Roman Waugh last directed star Gerard Butler in 2019's Angel Has Fallen – but don't hold that against him, as he also helmed the excellent Shot Caller. Here, he brings some humanity and palpable jeopardy to a story we've seen myriad times before. This is up there with Butler's best work too, especially in the film's nailbiting early stages.
Butler plays structural engineer John Garrity, who's desperately nervous when we meet him knocking off early from a building site. It transpires that he's moving back into the family home after a period of separation from his spouse Allison (Morena Baccarin) and the situation is excruciatingly awkward, with Butler wearing the weight of his character's expectations and guilt very believably. If Allison is uncomfortable, she's trying hard to make things work and his young son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) is certainly pleased to have him home. But the family's personal problems become small fry when background news regarding a comet's 'fly-by' evolves into a full-scale, panic-stations, imminent extinction event.
The film's early scenes are notable for their sensitivity to character, with even the introduction of a planet-pulverising threat impressively handled. The comet is brought into play in a way that initially seems credible and a departure from the usual script – from the way the Garritys receive messages that inform them of evacuation and shelter plans in front of friends who, gallingly, do not, while later the prized wristbands that label them important enough to save also make them targets.
When Greenland starts ticking the usual boxes – bombastic spectacle, wide-scale destruction, separations, reunions and the like – it feels increasingly implausible and dispiritingly predictable. However, there's plenty to enjoy for a time, and the takeaway might just be that Butler, who has made a career out of an especially crude kind of action flick, may well have the acting chops for something a bit more interesting.
Available to watch on Amazon Prime Video from Fri 5 Feb.