So it turns out there was a reason why President Trump wanted to buy Greenland: for when the apocalypse from above rains fire and brimstone down on humanity, the Danish island will be where the chosen few will be spirited off to save the species.
To little surprise, the protagonist of the new disaster flick is played by Gerard Butler. He is an everyman civil engineer, unimaginatively named John, who builds skyscrapers. His marriage to Allison (Morena Baccarin) is on the rocks. The reasons, such as they are, will make no difference as, in the grand tradition of disaster films, billions may die so that a marriage can be redeemed. They have a son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), who is rather movie-precocious.
Enough of characters; you’re here for the mayhem. A comet is approaching Earth, and pieces of space rock begin crashing into terra firma. John gets a text from a shadowy government agency saying he and his family have been selected for evacuation to safety. This leads to several awkward glances with the neighbors, whose phones haven’t beeped with such a salvation. But don’t get too attached to the neighbors [spoiler alert?] as everyone not of the top-billed cast will be blown to smithereens once the space rocks charge into the atmosphere.
Thus commences the requisite chases and escapes, as the family gets onto a military base to be evacuated, but since there’s still much time left to go, this won’t go off as planned and the family will soon be separated. Creepy ersatz friends will show up to help our heroes but soon enough will become enemies. Space rocks keep falling, though none harms our heroes.
Stuff blows up real good in this movie.
In the midst of this, there is somehow still time for the family to visit Allison’s father, Dale (Scott Glenn, criminally underused in this film), in what feels like an entirely different film. Fortunately, this digression is short-lived and then it’s back to escaping danger as the family heads toward the haven of Greenland.
EXTRAS: This is not the first time Gerard Butler works with director Ric Roman Waugh. They previously worked together on 2019’s “Angel has fallen.”
If there’s something wrong with films like “Greenland,” it’s that they underestimate the dark side of human nature. With precious few days to reach safety, people still behave in a semi-civilized, decidedly non-Hobbesian fashion. In order for a film like this to work, it requires that people turn against one another faster, yet this is barely explored except when a neighbor begs the family to take their daughter with them.
But I suppose I must remind myself this is meant as light entertainment, not social commentary (in the way that, say, “Night of the Living Dead” was). And we’re all stuck at home, and we want distraction from a worldwide disaster by taking refuge in a disaster of an entirely different kind.
Now available on demand.