The world awaits in wonder as a newly-discovered interstellar comet named Clarke is set to pass earth. However, a comet fragment strikes, causing monumental damage. People quickly realise there is more to come. Structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) rapidly sets about getting his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin – ‘Deadpool’) and son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) to safety.
Undoubtedly, the reader will feel skeptical - believing that ‘Greenland’ marks yet another Gerard Butler disaster of a disaster movie. What doesn’t help is the director is Ric Roman Waugh, who helmed the third installment in the ‘Has Fallen’ series, ‘Angel Has Fallen’ (he’s also directing the fourth unironically titled, ‘Night Has Fallen’). But thanks to empathetic characterisation and a plot that moves effectively and rivetingly, ‘Greenland’ really works.
The feature isn’t as hammy as you’d expect, feeling organic. It’s distinguished by an intriguing build-up of tension which is maintained consistently throughout. For our leads, Butler can act, after all, and ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Homeland’ star Morena Baccarin is great too. The likes of Scott Glenn, David Denman, Holt McCallany, Claire Bronson and more “where do I know them from again?” actors drop in to give swift appearances, but effective performances too.
While you can see the strain on the CGI budget (so it’s maybe just as well it went to on demand rather than the big screen), the action set pieces impress nonetheless. The film exhibits not only the evil and desperate, but the good, kind and generous people who come out in times of panic. There are some really thought-provoking and emotional events that happen. They include a heart-breaking plea in the Garritys’ neighbourhood, a dramatic revelation in a facility with despairing results, and a gut-wrenchingly cruel separation. The music by David Buckley really adds to the quality of the feature and the emotiveness of the story.
‘Greenland’ is, we’re as surprised as you are, one of the better disaster movies of recent years, recalling ‘Deep Impact’, without its tendency to drag in parts and taking on too big an ensemble cast. But ‘Greenland’ also suffers from those issues of the sub-genre in that the characters can make totally unrealistic and frustratingly foolish decisions. Still, it's a really solid and well-produced thriller, keeping you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
'Greenland' streams on Amazon Prime from 5 February.