Force of Nature stars Emile Hirsch, Kate Boseworth, and Mel Gibson, the three white knights of this action caper. Set in Puerto Rico (note the three white leads) during a Category 5 hurricane, a group of local criminals lead by Dexter alumnus David Zayas. At this point it’s worth noting that the bad guys are Puerto Rican and the good guys are white. Tone deaf? Obviously, the film was not written and filmed with the issues of today so magnified, but watching this in today’s milieu makes the overall experience a bit odd and uncomfortable.
The film starts as the hurricane is in full swing, two men, blurry and out of focus are fighting on the ground floor courtyard of an apartment complex, Gibson looks on from a higher floor, brandishing a pistol, trying to find a shot. Then we are yanked back to 8 hours earlier and are introduced to our villain (David Zayas). We know he’s a villain because he talks like every bad guy you have ever seen and he has a propensity of shooting people in the head, including his own henchmen, a bad guy indeed. Going by the name of John the Baptist he steals what looks to be a Picasso painting from a lock box at a bank, shooting anyone who gives him trouble. Next introduced is Cardillo (Emile Hirsch), a recently demoted police officer who is contemplating suicide in the bathtub and is called into duty for the hurricane. He is paired with the only non-white cop Jess Peña (Stephanie Cayo) to help evacuate residents before the hurricane hits.
While on duty they pick up a local named Griffin (Will Catlett) who was involved in an altercation when he was trying to buy up all the meat at a local store, enough meat to feed a large, unidentified feline MacGuffin. He requests to go home first before being evacuated and the film kicks off.
His home is the apartment complex John the Baptist and his crew have in their sights for a 55-million-dollar heist, planning to use the impending storm as cover. The hurricane begins to batter the apartment complex as John the Baptist and the police descend upon its hallways. In the apartment complex is a few holdouts that decided to hunker down and weather the storm, an old German Bergkamp (Jorge Luis Ramos) and a retired detective Ray (Mel Gibson) living out his life on dialysis and pain medication being taken care of by his daughter Troy (Kate Bosworth).
This ragtag group soon matches up against John the Baptists in a mix of Die Hard and The Raid but with absolutely none of the thrills or compelling characters.
The hurricane shown in either two really jarringly obvious repurposed news footage, or just some misty rain coming in from the open courtyard. The rest is just bad sound effects. When the main catalyst for your movie is never really seen or make much of an impact on your story at all, what’s the point?
The film, while boasting “The perfect crime” is unequivocally boring. The fights are not compelling, the villain is not scary, the storm is not impressive, and the ending is an anti-climactic cop out. No actor brings anything to the table worth note, every character is one-note and I did not care at all what would happen.
There is a certain expectation on the director and screenwriter to provide stakes, when you are dependent on the score to convey the severity of both your storm and your bad guys, you have done something wrong. A score enhances a film, it does not take it over. Director Michael Polish misses what could have been a great moment to call out the lack of help Puerto Ricans received after the 2017 Hurricane Maria, instead he made the heroes nonnative Americans who aren’t even from the island. Oops.
1 out of 5