Force of Nature

Force of Nature (2020)
★ / ★★★★

Not even twenty minutes into this mind-boggling interpretation of an action-thriller, I wondered what the likes of Mel Gibson, Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth, and David Zayas saw in Cory Miller’s lifeless screenplay. Surely they read the material and realized it is dead on arrival… right? Did they owe somebody a favor? Is this a part of a movie deal? Appear on this train wreck in order to have the chance to make or work on a project they’re actually passionate about? There must be a reason. There just has to be. As I rummaged around in my mind for answers, I found myself tuning out at times. And yet when I snapped myself back into paying attention, characters remain sitting in the same room, taking about the same thing five minutes ago.

Michael Polish’s “Force of Nature” offers not one fresh idea in terms of plot, not one good twist, not even one standout chase or shootout. It involves running around an apartment complex in Puerto Rico during a Category 5 hurricane. A man named John the Baptist (Zayas) figures he could use the chaos to his advantage to perform another heist (they had a successful one earlier that day—the greedy bastard)—for a painting worth $55 million. There is a safe in the basement.

The Baptist proves to be unlucky, however, when cops, Cardillo and Peña (Hirsch, Stephanie Cayo), happen to be in the building because they have been assigned by their superior to evacuate those who choose to stay behind. This building is without personality—one cannot help but think of a movie like John McTiernan’s “Die Hard” because so much is accomplished there while close to nothing is accomplished in this interminable boredom. No, I’m not referring to the budget, flying bullets, and explosions. Rather, the imagination, creativity, and energy injected into a place so we feel as though it is also a character in the story being told.

There is nothing wrong being an action picture that wishes to get in, deliver the goods, and get out. No need for social commentary. Simply provide entertainment that we cannot help but remember hours after the movie is over. Even on this level, the picture fails. Consider hostage situations. Distance among our heroes, villains, and the camera is so tight, it is impossible to appreciate the moment. As a result, tension fails to build. On occasion, based on where the camera is placed, we know precisely how the situation will play out. It is predictable both in content and execution.

Attempts at humor are lame and out of place. Despite the pandemonium, Cardillo happens to fall for a cantankerous old man’s daughter (Bosworth). We roll our eyes as they send each other knowing glances and smiles, as if the material were a romance picture. Hirsch and Bosworth share no believable chemistry; what does a doctor like Troy see in a police officer like Cardillo, a man who feels guilty for having lost his partner in New York—all because of a prank call? Meanwhile, Gibson grumbles his way through danger. It’s one of his worst roles in a while.

“Force of Nature” is not even good enough to play in the background as you perform chores around the house. That would require specific scenes worthy of watching in between having finished dusting and starting up the vacuum. The whole thing is a gargantuan miscalculation.

5 replies »

  1. dude, now i want to watch this just to see how long it will take me to turn off. lol. Shall we set the over/under at 30 minutes? lol.

      • dude, you’re not going to believe this. I turned this on….and I finished!!! LOL. I didn’t think this was quite as bad as your review makes it seem to be; it wasn’t very good, but somehow it held my attention through the duration. It definitely felt like uninspired performances just phoning it in, but i’m not sure how they’d give a strong performance with so much generic dialogue to work with. At the opening sequence I thought I was about to shut it down when Gibson tells Pena “Follow me” as he is walking down the corridor, and then aims his gun over the rail and says “I can’t get a shot” and then a minute later, “Come on, come on, come on!”. lol. After all that on-the-nose dialogue I was like “Yep, Franz was right, I’m not going to make it 15 minutes”. lol.

        But I think the thing that got my attention was whether Hirsch and Bosworth would be able to persuade Gibson’s character to evacuate, or not; and if he stayed would it be the better or worse option. I live in Florida, and have had to face that dilemma a couple times myself during hurricane season. So, i think the element of the hurricane and whether the two stubborn old men would evacuate their building was an interesting plot point…and then I was barely curious just enough to see what happens next. I was never on the edge of my seat or anything, and it definitely could have been much better, but it had just enough to hold my interest as I watched a football game in the background. You gave it 1-star. I’d probably give it a 2; maybe one-and-a-half…

        Okay, I’m about to try Cleansing Hour and Pale Door next. I am watching football with the sound muted, and planned to start and quickly shut off these 3 movies, and thought I’d be done w/ them by now, but I am behind schedule b/c I actually finished FON. lol. Man, I hope I don’t finish these other two, or I’d have spent 5-6 hours on movies today. lol.

        • You’re far too kind with this movie. Possibly two stars? That’s two too many. And don’t think that the look of the movie is so… cheap? I get it, it was made on a limited budget. But it didn’t even look like they tried.

          • i think since I created my old movie blog in 2013, and met you and a slew of other bloggers, that I got a little tamer, and you got a little harsher. lol. But I’m still a little harsher overall. lol. Or maybe I just didn’t read many reviews for movies you hated b/c it seemed to me if I remember correctly you usually weren’t very harsh on movies, even if you didn’t like it. But yeah I don’t disagree w/ your criticism for the film. I just didn’t hate it as much as you for some reason. Oh yeah, so what made you give Elizabeth Harvest two-stars instead of only one? There must have been some element(s) you liked to avoid the dreaded one-star rating.

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