Review by Sean Boelman
Although now might seem like an ill-advised time to release a cop-centric action flick, Michael Polish’s new B-movie Force of Nature almost works in showing how inept the law enforcement is at actually protecting and serving the public. Yet with a story about as ridiculous they come, any merit it has is sadly lost on an overwritten mess.
The film follows a cop and his partner as they try to evacuate the residents of an apartment building during a severe hurricane, only to discover that the building is the site of a heist planned by a gang of thieves. And while heist movies are notoriously fun, even at their most mindless, Cory Miller’s script is too self-serious for it to be particularly enjoyable.
Major plot points in the film revolve around precious art and exotic pets, yet Miller and Polish aren’t able to make anything remotely interesting out of this absurdity. The idea of being trapped in a storm has been an anxiety-inducing premise of movies for years, but here, it’s used as little more than an excuse to get all of these characters in the same place.
Furthermore, the film is largely lacking in legitimate action. There are a couple of cool scenes, but for the most part, the tension rests on people carrying big guns and pulling the trigger every once in a while. The stakes aren’t high enough, and even when they are, the audience is given very little reason to care.
The character development here is pretty lackluster. The protagonist isn’t particularly heroic, and (as always) it takes an attractive female co-star to will him into action. There’s also a subplot about the protagonist’s partner trying to impress a retired cop to get a recommendation, offering the most emotional moments of the movie, if only they didn’t feel like an afterthought to get a once-reliable draw attached to the project.
Emile Hirsch carries much of the film, and while he’s clearly a very talented actor, it’s also obvious that his heart isn’t all here. Perhaps because the script is so bland, Hirsch doesn’t seem to connect with the character, and the result is a mildly charming version of any other cop movie protagonist with a dark side.
On a technical level, the film shows its low budget and B-movie stature. Everything about the movie feels extremely staged and choreographed, but not in an appealing way. Rather, the audience will almost certainly be drawn out of the film by the overwhelmingly artificial feel that it has.
Force of Nature takes what could be a fun premise and makes a generic B-movie dirge out of it. It’s a shame — there’s some really compelling talent on display here, but it simply doesn’t pay off in an entertaining way.
Force of Nature hits VOD on June 30.