Released: 13th August
Seen: 17th August
In 2017 Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. The deadly category 5 hurricane was the worst natural disaster to ever hit those islands, causing over 3000 deaths and doing well over 90 billion in damages. It was a devastating event that was made even worse due to a poor response by the president, who at the time disputed the death toll and in general just did what one would expect a failed businessman to do when a disaster hit. Most people look at Hurricane Maria and they see a tragedy that changed millions of lives and shook the island of Puerto Rico to its core… and some looked at it and said “there’s a movie in that” and for some strange reason no one stopped them.
Force of Nature takes place during that hurricane (or at least, a category 5 Hurricane that happens to hit Puerto Rico) and focuses around Office Cardillo (Emile Hirsch) who has tragic backstory and doesn’t really want to do the evacuation but his new partner Jess Peña (Stephanie Cayo) insists upon it so they go to one apartment building where 2 people haven’t left yet, an old man who is just called “The old man” for most of the runtime and another old man who is Mel Gibson.
Of course, because this film needs it’s conflict, this building is also about to be visited by a cartel led by a man named John the Baptist (David Zayas) who really wants to steal some of the priceless artwork that the non-Gibson old man has hidden somewhere in his apartment. Thus begins what should be a tense battle between two groups both trapped in a building together, but it’s actually just the beginning of a mess.
Force of Nature has exactly two modes of operation. The first is cliché and the second is stupidity, sometimes it does both because it’s feeling fancy and can handle doing that. Most of the film is your average bank heist movie except we’ve replaced a large bank with several rooms in a tall building with several floors, which for some reason (my guess is to hide the fact they only had one hallway set) has a different colored light on every level. This means we have a lot of scenes of our characters going up and down the same set of stairs while holding a large gun and no, it doesn’t get so boring that I want to take a nap and how dare you imply such a thing.
The action in this film is nothing to write home about, most of it is just “Person looks over the balcony while rain obscures everyone’s vision and occasionally pulls a trigger” and that’s the stuff that’s shot well enough that I can actually describe what’s going on. Any hand to hand fights are edited so frantically that it’s hard to keep up and the one scene set on the scaffolding outside the building is bafflingly bad, awfully edited and not even that exciting. Oh and then there’s moments where it’s bordering on cartoon logic with main characters falling at least 40 feet onto hard cement, landing on a bad guy, and still being able to get right up and keep fighting as though nothing happened. If it’s not bad, it’s stupid.
The only part of Force of Nature that’s even remotely interesting or memorable is Mel Gibson and that’s because he’s been practicing this asshole character for decades. He is, quite literally, the only interesting character in the entire film because he’s the only one who has fun dialogue and a personality and a reason to be in the film. Everyone else feels lifted from the book of basic bland characters who no one cares about, Mel acts like a belligerent asshole who really just wants to get out of the film, and I don’t blame him, but he’s also wildly entertaining with his quips and blunt attitude towards his situation. This also means that when he’s not on film, you might as well be watching paint dry because everything else is boring by comparison.
Force of Nature couldn’t force me to enjoy it for long. Apart from one character and an amusingly pointless sequence involving a tiger (Oh did I not mention the tiger? Cos it’s a recurring plot point) the film is just forgettable. It doesn’t even make the hurricane look that dangerous, it’s just really heavy rain with an occasional breeze. It’s not good, it’s average on a good day and we don’t have any good days in this, the year of our lord 2020. It’s not worth your time, I’m just glad I had a free ticket so I didn’t waste any money on this one.