FORCE OF NATURE (2020)
Starring Emile Hirsch,
Kate Bosworth, Mel Gibson, Stephanie Cayo, David Zayas, Tyler Jon Olson, William
Catlett, Jasper Polish, Swen Temmel, Rey Hernandez, Jesy McKinney, Blas Sien
Diaz, Leslee Emmett, Anil Raman, Sebastian Vázquez, Thomas Curran, Julio Ramos
Velez, Joksan Ramos, Raymond Joel Oliveras and Jose L. Roman.
Screenplay by Cory Miller.
Directed by Michael
Distributed by Lionsgate.
91 minutes. Rated R.
In the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico
in 2017, it certainly seems a bit insensitive to use a Puerto Rican hurricane
as the backdrop of a slightly cheesy heist movie.
This is kind of a shame; Force of Nature is kind of good – at least
it has its moments – but it is hard to watch without having flashbacks to the desperation
on the island just three years ago. In fact, throughout the film I was wondering
if this story was supposed to be taking place during Maria. (The film never says
one way or the other, so I assume it is supposed to be another fictional
The film takes place almost completely in a single rundown apartment
complex, so while the storm does isolate the action, it is not the cause of
the action, nor does the film look at what else is going on in the area. The
storm is sort of a subplot, a bogeyman who lurks in the background but is
rarely a catalyst of what is happening. It makes it more difficult to escape
the situation, but it is not the situation.
Which, again, makes the use of a hurricane in a place that so recently
was devastated by a similar storm feel a little tone deaf, to say the least.
There must have been another way to isolate these characters – a mix of cops, criminals,
and innocent bystanders in the middle of a deadly standoff in search of some
mysterious treasure – without picking up the emotional baggage of Hurricane Maria.
But okay, let’s give Force of Nature the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps (in fact, probably) the script was written, and the film was in process
before Hurricane Maria. Divorcing the film from a natural disaster that was not
of its making, does Force of Nature work as an adventure movie?
Umm, kind of. Sometimes. You’d be very hard-pressed to call Force of
Nature a good film even without considering the storm in the background,
but as action adventures go, it delivers the goods, at least sometimes.
Essentially it is a
crossroads film – good and evil just happen to be at the same place at the same
time and must battle it out in a fight to the death.
Good are the cops. The
main cop is Cardillo (played by Emile Hirsch, where has he been?), a former New
York hero cop who has somehow ended up in San Juan and become completely jaded due
to some mysterious past tragic occurrence during an arrest. (Information on
what happened is doled slowly out through the film.)
He is partnered up with a
fresh-faced and enthusiastic rookie cop named Pina. Peruvian actress, model and
singer Stephanie Cayo, making her English-language film debut in the role, is
the most pleasant surprise in Force of Nature, making her potentially
one-note character smart, funny, quirky and by far the most likable character
in the film.
They are in the apartment
complex because a guy they arrested begged them to allow him to feed his pet.
(It doesn’t make much sense that they’d agree to it, but it does open the door
to the story.) Once there they find that even though the island is being evacuated,
there are some residents who refuse to leave. Among the people in the building are
a terminally ill former cop played by Mel Gibson (yes, his career has come down
to this…), his daughter who is a doctor and begging her dad to leave (Kate
Bosworth) and a mysterious older man who seems to have some secrets.
There is also a group of criminals,
led by the colorfully-monikered John the Baptist (David Zayas of Dexter),
who are determined to make it into the mysterious older man’s apartment due to
some mysterious bounty on the other side of the multi-locked door. (There seem
to be lots of multi-locked doors in this complex.) John is quickly shown to be
a blood-thirsty sociopath – he shoots the landlord, a woman and even one of his
own men due to mild annoyances – and he is determined to kill anyone or
everyone in the building while using the storm as a distraction for his
And that is pretty much
it, the good guys hide and try to trap the bad guys and the bad guys go on a
killing spree looking for treasure. And if you don’t see the eventual climax
repeatedly advance telegraphed in a series of earlier scenes, then you just
aren’t paying attention.
Like I said, not good,
not bad, but it is a reasonable adventure story. It would be more enjoyable if
it didn’t have the tragic baggage of real life, though.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June