A comet of extinction-level proportion is on a collision course for Earth. Some citizens have been selected to be transported to an emergency shelter, with one of the lucky ones being structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) alongside his wife (Morena Baccarin) and their seven-year-old son (Roger Dale Floyd). However, after a series of unforeseen consequences, the family becomes separated. With civilisation collapsing into anarchy around them, the group must find a way to reunite and survive the impending apocalypse.
Helmed by Ric Roman Waugh with a script penned by Chris Sparling, Greenland plays out a bog-standard disaster flick. The day begins like any other as we see the Garritys in their everyday domestic routine. Then catastrophe strikes as the first fragment hits. From here, the screenplay is a collection of loosely connected scenes showing the world falling apart. Offering little in the way of surprises, the movie retraces the same steps seen in other genre films: seemingly kind people turn on each other, areas are devastated and the protagonists narrowly avoid cataclysmic events through sheer luck.
While these sequences offer a large spectacle even on the small screen, the entire plot is weighed down by the vast amount of them. Shots like these are so numerous, in fact, that many are resolved almost instantaneously. Having virtually no relevance to what precedes them, many of them could have been cut. The extraneous padding of the narrative is so bad that by the time the family has their (what should be) climactic reunion, there is a staggering 40 minutes left in the runtime. It’s only at this point when the main goal of reaching safety is introduced. It’s like the script is merging two features together and hoping for the best.
However, despite the disastrous pacing, what makes Greenland work far better than it should is the accomplishments of its central cast. Butler (who speaks in his native Scottish accent with noticeable American twangs), Baccarin and Floyd especially give far stronger performances than this picture deserves. Glen Scott, who only appears onscreen for a few minutes, provides a staggeringly emotional portrayal. When actors like these are bringing their A-game, it’s impossible not to become invested in their characters’ plights.
Its script might be a broken mess, but the phenomenal performances are what saves Greenland from being a total disaster.
Greenland is released digitally on demand on 5th February 2021.
Watch the trailer for Greenland here: