Officer Cardillo (Emile Hirsch) started the day off clothed in a bathtub, unable to commit suicide because his PTSD was a little too disturbing. He’s not exactly excited to spend his day evacuating people who don’t want to be evacuated ahead of hurricane in Puerto Rico, and he’s sure as heck not thrilled to be stuck doing it with rookie cop Jess (Stephanie Cayo). Little did he know, his day was about to get a whole lot worse.
A grocery store fight over the hording of meat has Cardillo and Jess following Griffin (William Catlett) back to his apartment, where it turns out he’s not the only hold out. Dr. Troy (Kate Bosworth) is there trying to evacuate her father (Mel Gibson, a surly ex-cop who relies on dialysis to live, and yet doesn’t appreciate the a storm power outage might mean. There’s another old man in the building, Bergkamp (Jorge Luis Ramos) who’s also refusing to leave, but evacuation becomes moot when a bunch of thieves led by John (David Zayas) take advantage of the storm to raid the building, making it all but impossible for anyone to escape with their lives.
Force of Nature has the bones of an 80s action movie but those old bones are not aging well, practically disintegrating into dust as we watch. This movie is a mess, so bad that I can only ask: is this intentional? It seems inconceivable that this many things can go wrong and it not be deliberate. I mean, first we have the exploitation of a Puerto Rican hurricane, which, okay, it’s a cheap ploy, but it’s also in poor taste considering the deadly Hurricane Maria, not only a terrible natural disaster, but a sickening political blunder as well. Then we have the white-saviour thing pushing a bad movie into downright ugly territory. Both Hirsch and Gibson play white cops in Puerto Rico taking on the no good very bad Puerto Rican criminal element (officially they’re art thieves, but the script is so eager to paint John with extra villainy that it has him murdering his own men needlessly). Now let’s add a layer that is almost inexplicable in its double badness: both Hirsch and Gibson hurt women. Emile Hirsch put a woman in a chokehold, and dragged her across a table with his hands around her throat to body slam her to the ground. And yet Gibson makes him look like a puppy. Mel Gibson is a flagrant anti-Semite. And homophone. And misogynist. Yes, he’s beaten the mother of his own child. Yes he’s used the n-word while threatening rape. And that’s just what’s been caught on tape. He’s 10 000% a bad dude and if Michael Polish wants to work with him, I don’t think Polish gets a pass either. When you cast not one but two Hollywood delinquents in white saviour roles, you’re taking deliberate swings at the bee’s nest and you deserve to get stung. You might even think that this is a bit of stunt casting to make up for the film being pretty terrible to start with, but that just begs the question: why make it at all?
Think of all the female film makers, and the people of colour, shopping promising projects around Hollywood without having a single door opened to them, but this shit is getting green-lit? In 2020, it’s a slap in the face. And yet it’s pathetic choice of cast is not what sinks this movie – it does that all on its own merits.