There’s some serious fun to be had if you surrender to the deliciously pulpy charms of Michael Polish’s Force Of Nature. This throwback action film top-lined by Emile Hirsch, Kate Bosworth and Mel Gibson, keeps things simple and entertains across its tight ninety minute running time. It might not be high art – but it’s damn good fun.
Emile Hirsch and Stephanie Cayo are two cops in San Juan, Puerto Rico who are tasked with ensuring an apartment building is evacuated during a Category 5 hurricane. They get more than they bargained for when a gang of thieves led by David Zayas’ ‘John The Baptist’ enter the complex in search of stolen Nazi art. However, none of them expect to find Mel Gibson’s Ray – a crotchety retired cop who refuses to leave the building, even at the behest of his daughter (Kate Bosworth).
Cory Miller’s script might be derivative – the film has echoes of Die Hard and a variety of disaster movies, but it’s nicely written, offering the actors a chance to deliver something which comes close to characterisation (often a rarity in this type of film). Emile Hirsch makes for a good lead as the haunted cop who needs to rise to the occasion in order to take down the bad-guys. Stephanie Cayo is also good as his earnest and eager rookie partner who spends most of her screen-time trading one-liners with Gibson and bullets with the bad guys.
Will Catlett stars as another of the apartment building inhabitants, who is more worried about his (rather large) pet cat than anything else. He too has an interesting backstory, one which is very on-point with the current Black Live Matter movement. Oddly it’s Kate Bosworth who seems saddled with the least interesting role. She’s perfectly fine as Gibson’s doctor daughter, but often she feels that she’s just there to be Hirsch burgeoning love interest.
As good as everyone in Force Of Nature is, Mel Gibson’s is the stand-out as the grizzled ex-cop with a list of medical ailments. The Lethal Weapon might have supporting part here, but both the marketing and the actual film revolve around his charisma. He chews the scenery, growling his way through the dialogue as he coughs and splutters through the action. Gibson could do this type of role his sleep, but you can’t not get excited when he goes eye-rolling crazy and starts taking out the bad guys whilst cracking wise. He’s still a true movie star.
Michael Polish might be best known for directing lowkey films, but he ensures that there’s plenty of kinetic energy in Force Of Nature. Jayson Crothers’ cinematography keeps things moving in the rain-drenched apartment building, while Kubilay Uner’s musical score has hints of the great Michael Kamen and James Horner.
An entertaining and tense action film with good performances, Force Of Nature is one of the best old-school action films to hit screens in a long time. Give it a go!