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"GREENLAND"
(2020) (Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: An estranged husband and wife try to find each other and protect their son while racing to an Air Force base shelter to survive a planet-killing comet impact.
PLOT:

John Garrity (GERARD BUTLER) is a structural engineer who's currently estranged from his wife, Allison (MORENA BACCARIN), due to his infidelity. But she's allowing him back into their home -- and to be with their 7-year-old son, Nathan (ROGER DALE FLOYD) -- for a party, albeit with him sleeping in a guest room. But that's interrupted when what was initially forecast to be just an interesting celestial spectacle -- fragments of a comet hitting Earth's atmosphere -- takes a turn for the worse, with John and his family being selected for shelter at an Air Force base.

With those fragments now striking Earth -- and destroying an American city -- John, Allison, and Nathan hit the road, unaware that their son's need for insulin will impact their ability to continue, and they end up being separated with the plan being to meet at the farmhouse owned by her father, Dale (SCOTT GLENN). With time running out before an extinction-level impact kills most animal and plant life on Earth, John and Allison do what they must to protect their son and get to the shelter before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10

If you think it's been rough over the past nine or so months hunkering down during our recent pandemic, imagine if you were somehow "lucky" enough to survive some cataclysmic, apocalyptic event that wiped out nearly all plant and animal life on Earth, including pretty much everyone you know.

More than likely, you'd need to stay in your underground bunker, shelter, subway tunnel, or cave for months or years without -- yes, I must break it to you -- any Internet connection and thus no Netflix or Zoom calls with other survivors. For yours truly, if we know beforehand that without a shadow of a doubt that some end of the world event is going to occur, I'm going to head to the pending ground zero, enjoy the show for however long it takes, and then not worry about it anymore.

I guess I wouldn't make for a good protagonist in a doomsday movie. After all, how intriguing is it watching someone traveling to the point of impact just to give up? Sure, it could be a mismatched buddy meets road trip sort of flick, but that would obviously fall in the black comedy genre rather than action-oriented disaster movie one.

The latter is on full display in "Greenland" where the title certainly sounds benign and sort of "let's go on vacation" dreamy compared to its similarly themed predecessors "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" where a celestial object is certain to cast a shadow on Annie singing about there always being tomorrow to look forward to.

In this latest "the sky is falling" offering, Gerard Butler -- no stranger to appearing in films featuring various forms of danger -- plays John Garrity, a structural engineer who seems pensive at work when told by an employee that he should take the rest of the day off and go home.

And that's because dear ol' dad has been a naughty boy and found the comfort of the bed of another woman who's not his current wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin). They're on the outs and upon visiting the house for an upcoming party, their young son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), wonders if mom is going to make dad leave again.

But before the story gets too deep into these strained family dynamics, John is tasked with getting some extra beer and wine for the party, and while at the store he gets a presidential alert notice on his phone. It indicates that he, the missus, and their youngin have been specially selected to head to an Air Force base for survival of the species sheltering from an approaching comet benignly named Clark but seemingly hell-bent on snuffing out life as we know it.

Soon, the family trio is on the road but it's not long before they're separated, and they then spend a lot of the flick's nearly two-hour runtime trying to reunite. You know, sort of like what occurred in "The Impossible," albeit before the disaster has occurred. It's then a race against time to try to get to the titular location to sit out the end of the world.

While it might appear on the surface to be yet another throwaway, quick cash grab attempt in B movie packaging, director Ric Roman Waugh -- working from a script by Chris Sparling -- decently engages both our visceral and emotional reactions. Things play out in a surprisingly effective, albeit hope meets downer sort of way where the couple, natch, reconciles in the face of pending doom and gloom. And while I couldn't see myself doing the same (to get to "safety"), I appreciated the efforts made by these characters -- after all, the future of humankind is resting firmly on their shoulders.

A decent pending Apocalypse thriller with good performances and some nice emotional touches (that also believably depicts both the treachery and generosity of others in the face of doom), "Greenland" might inspire increased tourism to the far northern land, if anything to look for such end of the world shelters. It rates as a 6.5 out of 10.




Reviewed December 16, 2020 / Posted December 18, 2020


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