Structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) along with his wife Allisson (Morena Baccarin) and child Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) are chosen to head to an underground bunker after passing comet Clarke levels an entire city in Florida, with the worst yet to come.
There is usually one of two reactions to seeing Gerard Butler in a disaster film – ‘oh god not another one of these’ or ‘I can’t wait to watch this!’ – there is no middle ground. Previous outings such as 2012 (2009) and Geostorm (2017) have had mixed commercial success, but a mostly poor reception from the critics. Greenland is the strange antithesis to this – so far, a good response from most that have seen it, but due to the pandemic it’s release on Amazon Prime has limited its financial success. That being said, it might have been the rock bottom expectations that lead to a fairly warm reception, as there is little that make it better than its predecessors.
The setup is fairly generic – Gerard Butler works too hard, spending more time making sure his job runs smooth rather than seeing his family. A vague skyscraper project at the start is signed off by one of his employees so he can leave early, accidentally surprising ex-wife Morena Baccarin as she’s working out. A lovely difference between this and lesser films is that Butler and Baccarin aren’t on bad terms, he isn’t a terrible father but the marriage just didn’t work out. Things are a little awkward, but there’s no bad blood (so when they inevitably get back together by the end it doesn’t feel so forced). Their son doesn’t get caught between them, everything they do is in his best interest.
Unfortunately this film falls apart with the slightest second thought, feeling more lazily put together and poorly thought through rather than actually considering the logic of it’s plot.
That being said there’s plenty of wrong turns throughout. As all the neighbours gather together to watch Clarke fly by on TV, a chunk lands and destroys Tampa Bay. Butler receives an automated message from the government announcing they’ve selected to be flown to an underground bunker in Greenland – why don’t they go to one in the US? There isn’t one, for some reason. There’s also a bunker in South America, but for some reason Greenland is the most viable option – unfortunately this film falls apart with the slightest second thought, feeling more lazily put together and poorly thought through rather than actually considering the logic of it’s plot.
In terms of the actual destruction that happens, there’s plenty of bland action you’ve seen before (see; shower of fiery rocks whilst driving), but also a few effective sequences as well. The aforementioned flattening of Tampa Bay is surprising, and the response from the families watching feels authentic. No one quite knows how to react, not understanding the situation they find themselves in. A caveat to this is the low budget – $35m get’s stretched thin in the 2 hour run time. In comparison to Geostorm’s $120m or 2012’s $200m budgets, director Chris Hewitt does well, but there’s still a cheap feel for much of the CGI and a general lack of polishing throughout.
For fans of your average disaster film, Greenland will likely stick out with more fleshed out characters and believably motivations, but for everyone else the lack of care in pretty much every aspect will make it forgettable as ever.