Things get crazy in this surprisingly good apocalyptic flick.

Gerard Butler has the action movie charisma that makes his movies, like “300,” “Olympus Has Fallen,” and the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy, massive hits. His new movie, “Greenland,” is like a low-budgeted version ($34 million) of “Armageddon, as he plays a family man dedicated to protecting his family from an arriving comet. They make a distinction between astroids and comets, since one moves slower than the other.

It was directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who previously guided Butler in “Angel Has Fallen,” the worst of the three “Olympus Has Fallen” movies. He improves himself on that piece of crap by having the characters use their emotions and deal with one dramatic situation after another. It’s crazy and confusing at times, but it also has its moments worth watching. It was supposed to come out in theaters, but because it got pushed back due to COVID-19, it’s being released online.

The family man in “Greenland” is an Atlanta construction worker named John Garrity, whose family-wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd)-has been randomly selected to be part of an underground bunker in Greenland, because a planet-killing comet is making a deep impact on Earth in less than 48 hours. When they get to the plane to safety, John has to rush back to the car to get the medicine for his diabetic son, and because of his condition, they’re denied access on the plane. They end up getting separated, and must meet at her father’s (Scott Glenn) home in Lexington, Kentucky.

That’s just the start of things. Looters and rioters begin attacking the military base and stores around. A couple (David Denman and Hope Davis) kidnap the boy so they can get on, and John gets into a fight with a survivor, who wants his wrist band. These wrist bands prove they were selected to join the bunker.

“Greenland” represents the fears and terrors of an extinction-level event by having characters who were either accepted or rejected by the government to survive in the bunkers. There’s a scene when a mother begins the Garriety family to take her little girl, but they can’t because they can only bring themselves-government orders. It’s not often in these kinds of doomsday movies I see little kids scared of these events, and the reactions from them are real. And the looting and rioting, as well as the traffic jams forcing people to walk, give us a certain “War of the Worlds” vibe.

The situations do get confusing and there are formulaic lines from Floyd as the main boy, but Butler is the one who steals the show by breaking away from his usual action movie motivation. He’s not battling terrorists or the Persian army; he just wants to get his family to safety. Baccarin also provides some solid work as his wife, and Glenn has a wise cameo role.

I found myself enjoying this movie more than I expected to, and while I can’t call it a masterpiece, it still has more potential than other doomsday flicks like “Knowing” or “2012,” and it delivers on the entertainment value without trying so hard.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

On Demand This Friday

Categories: Action, Sci Fi, Thriller

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