Gerard Butler does more than just punch his way out of imminent apocalypse in Ric Roman Waugh’s sharp action film

One of the genuine guilty pleasures of last year’s lockdown releases was Skyfire, a spectacularly silly Chinese disaster movie in which Jason Isaacs builds a hotel on the side of a volcano and then tries to reassure everyone (in a South African accent) that “we’re all going to be fine!” After watching Gerard Butler get into a fistfight with the weather in Geostorm, I had similar expectations of this end-of-the-world action film about an impending meteor strike. But though originally announced with Chris Evans as star and Neill Blomkamp of District 9 as director, Greenland turns out to be the perfect vehicle for Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh, reuniting after Angel Has Fallen for a sharply written and grippingly executed apocalypse pic that, like 2008’s breakout hit Cloverfield, punches well above its mid-budget weight.

Butler is John Garrity, a structural engineer in Atlanta attempting to rebuild his broken marriage to estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin). The couple’s diabetic young son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), is thrilled by news of a comet due to make “the closest flyby in history”. But when John receives a presidential alert announcing that his family have been chosen for “shelter”, it becomes clear that bits of the comet are on course for Earth. Next thing, “the sky is on fire”, Tampa is toast, and the Garrity clan are heading for a military airfield to be transported to bunkers near the north pole.

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