GREENLAND entered the Armageddon field in the death-by-comet subdivision, giving hardy Gerard Butler another mission to barrel & brogue his way through. This time he’s not leading warriors or mopping up terrorists, he’s just a regular guy trying to save his family from an imminent extinction event. The 2020 release was tripped up by the real disaster of Covid-19.*
Desultory opening scenes establish the three main characters and lay out at issues: husband and wife are about to split up, little boy caught between, TV news jabbers about a visible comet. Suddenly, while having a party with neighbors, Atlanta-based engineer ‘John Garrity’ (Butler) receives, via phone and TV set, a message from Homeland Security telling him he’s been selected to evacuate to a safety site, and bring wife and child. Digesting the news, its message becomes imperative when outlying pieces of comet ‘Clarke’ begin raining down to Earth, a hail of space bombs that are a fiery prelude to one incoming that’s big enough to add us to the dinosaur roll.
The script by Chris Sparling is by-the-numbers (of disaster flicks past) complete with the estranged couple (Morena Baccarin is wife ‘Allison’) who heal their rift while the planet is pulverized and cute little boy (Roger Dale Floyd is ‘Nathan’) stricken with diabetes. As the three flee North (yay, we’re going to live underground in Greenland!: some survival), brief subplots are shoehorned in; one with Scott Glenn as ‘Allison’s no-nonsense father (cue the emotion valve), another with David Denman and Hope Davis as an “unselected” couple desperate to escape (odd to see Davis in such a nothing role).
Though the script is limp, director Ric Roman Waugh arranges the action decently, and does a good job conveying the type of mass panic that would (will) accompany something bigger than puny society can handle. The special effects provide expected destruction diversion. While not in the fun-spectacle zone of, say, San Andreas or 2012, let alone the thoughtful and affecting Deep Impact, it’s at least much better than Meteor (a real one would be less painless than that cheeseball) or a gust of hot air like Volcano, and there are worse ways to use up 119 minutes.
* Covid concerns set the release date back repeatedly. In the US, after the token release required to qualify for awards (not that this would get any) in the States it was sent to home viewing venues. There, along with $52,300,000 earned by international releases, it made back just enough to cover the $35,000,000 production cost and $10,000,000 worth of advertising.