As far as disaster movies go, ‘Greenland’ lands somewhere between ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Geostorm’. Not as good as the former but also not as mind-numbingly dumb as Gerard Butler’s previous foray into the genre. In a normal year, this one could have easily fallen through the cracks. But this being 2020, the latest collaboration between Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh is actually a welcome diversion. It also helps that ‘Greenland’ comes off as decidedly grounded and restrained when compared to other disaster movies, essentially boiling down to a story about a man trying to save his family.
Butler stars as John Garrity, a Scottish-born structural engineer who is currently estranged from his wife, Alison (Morena Baccarin) following an affair. The fact that John is Scottish-born doesn’t add anything at all to the story. My guess is that Butler just didn’t feel like doing an American accent this time? Anyway, their marriage problems soon take a backseat when a comet, not even deterred by Butler’s thick Scottish brogue, is on its way to destroy Earth as comets in movies are prone to do. To demonstrate just how serious the situation is, a piece of debris wipes Tampa off the map before knocking John on his ass all the way in Atlanta. The good news however is that John, Alison and their diabetic son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), have been selected as part of a government evacuation program because of his professional skills. Which makes sense. In a world reduced to rubble, a structural engineer would be of more use than say, an influencer. Then again, literally anyone is of more use than an influencer at any given moment.
When the Garritys finally make it to the military base where they are scheduled to board a plane, they end up getting separated again. This time around not due to John screwing around, but because of an unfortunate series of events that lead to none of them making it on the plane. Rightfully assuming that Alison is headed for her dad’s ranch with Nathan, John also starts heading that way. Needless to say, things don’t exactly go smooth as they are confronted with the depths some people will sink to and the kind of problems that can only be solved with the help of a claw hammer.
There’s definitely something to be said for the more humane approach taken by Ric Roman Waugh and screenwriter Chris Sparling, but ‘Greenland’ is not without its flaws. Some of the dialogues are rather clunky, there are decisions being made that demand quite a lot of goodwill from the viewer and some of the characters are allowed as much of a personality as the comet. Yet I still found myself quite enjoying ‘Greenland’. Probably more than it warrants. But I guess that’s my disaster movie fetish talking. Hell, I even dare say I liked ‘2012’. Even though I do draw the line at ‘Skyscraper’.