Mel Gibson washes out in his latest turn as a hard-nosed cop. Force of Nature is an absurdly plotted heist thriller that takes place during a hurricane. All of the action is set in a nearly abandoned apartment building. Cardboard characters run up and down stairwells in a deluge of rain and bullets. Their hits and misses playing out like a bad Die Hard knockoff. An obvious reveal leads to a massively disappointing climax. Force of Nature is a big wet flop.
Emile Hirsch stars as Officer Cardillo, a white, non-Spanish speaking policeman in Puerto Rico. The island is preparing to take the full brunt of a powerful hurricane. Cardillo is forced off desk duty and paired with an earnest rookie, Jess (Stephanie Cayo). They’re assigned to clear out local residents who have refused to evacuate. Their first case, Griffin (William Catlett), leads them to his apartment building. They run into Troy (Kate Bosworth), a doctor with an irascible father on an upper floor. Ray (Mel Gibson), a retired precinct commander on kidney dialysis, won’t budge.
Meanwhile on the first floor, a group of criminals led by the vicious John the Baptist (David Zayas) have arrived. They’ve kidnapped and murdered to get to this point. The storm was the perfect diversion to isolate the building. A secret treasure has been hidden by one of the shadowy tenants. The death toll mounts as the hurricane rages. The cops and crooks engage in a brutal game of cat and mouse.
Force of Nature has idiotic racial subplots. How can Cardillo be a cop in Puerto Rico without being bilingual? The film explains why Cardillo ended up on the island, but not how he remained a cop. The scenes where Jess translates for him are absolutely cringe worthy. The same situation applies to Mel Gibson as Ray. Ray curses and swears with a pseudo New York accent. He’s supposed to be a retired commanding officer in Puerto Rico, but also can’t speak a lick of Español. Griffin, the sole black character, inexplicably confronts racial issues as the treasure hunt progresses. None of this makes any sense at all.
The only intriguing aspect of the film is the treasure. The baddies are willing to kill anyone in their way. The protagonists don’t have a clue what to look for. There is a brief window of actual suspense. That tension fizzles utterly in the final act. Director Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, The Astronaut Farmer) makes an odd editing choice in the money shot action scene. No spoilers here, but let’s continue the Die Hard comparison. Imagine if John McClane jumped off the exploding Nakatomi tower, and then you didn’t get to see what happens next. Michael Polish kneecaps his own film. The already struggling Force of Nature becomes as disastrous as the hurricane it portrays.
Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth, and Mel Gibson are miscast in a poorly written film. Some decent gunplay and fight scenes save Force of Nature from a horrendous one-star rating. Force of Nature is a production of Grindstone Entertainment Group, The Pimienta Film Co., and SSS Entertainment. It is available to stream on demand and DVD/Blu-Ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
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