Action Drama

Review: Extreme Weather Makes for Mediocre Action in ‘Force of Nature’

June 29, 2020Ben MK

What is it about extreme weather scenarios that some find so compelling? From Twister and Hard Rain to Into the Storm and The Hurricane Heist, filmmakers have been drawn to them like storm chasers racing towards a tornado. And in Force of Nature, that fixation continues, as cops and criminals do battle while a destructive hurricane rages around them.

Set in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the film follows a cop named Cardillo (Emile Hirsch) who's been tasked with helping to evacuate the prisoners at the local jail before a Category 5 hurricane bears down on the city. But when he and his new partner, Jess (Stephanie Cayo), take a diversion to answer a call about an altercation at a grocery store, it leads them to an apartment building where a handful of residents — including retired cop Ray (Mel Gibson), the son of a former Nazi named Bergkamp (Jorge Luis Ramos), and Griffin (William Catlett), who happens to be keeping a rescued big cat in his apartment — are intent on riding out the storm.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, it's Ray who's the film's titular force of nature. And, of course, when a gang of armed and violent criminals led by the ruthless John the Baptist (David Zayas) descend on the apartment building to unlawfully relieve Bergkamp of his valuable art collection, it's Ray — along with his doctor daughter, Troy (Kate Bosworth) — who must take up weapons themselves and lead the charge against their assailants.

Directed by Bosworth's real-life husband, Michael Polish, the result is about as mediocre as action movies get. And when you consider the fact that the hurricane plays virtually no real role in the plot itself, one begins to wonder what the point of even setting it against a backdrop so similar to Puerto Rico's recent real-life calamity, 2017's Hurricane Maria, really was. Factor in the presence of Gibson and Hirsch, two actors who have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and well — you get the picture.

Suffice to say, Force of Nature is no Oscar contender, even with the almost certain reduction in the number of films being released in the lead-up to next year's awards ceremony. That said, it's not a total washout either, as viewers looking for a few B-movie thrills could certainly sink far lower.

Force of Nature releases June 30th, 2020 from Lionsgate. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence and pervasive language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 31 min.

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