Force of Nature

Jacob Richardson | 18/8/2020

Like watching six movies in one, but all of them done poorly.


Cardillo (Emile Hirsch) is a disgraced and disenchanted police officer in Puerto Rico. When a hurricane hits his city, he is tasked with partnering up with rookie cop Jess Pena (Stephanie Cayo) to help Troy Barrett (Kate Bosworth) get her stubborn, ex-cop old man Ray (Mel Gibson) out of his apartment and to safety. While they are arguing with the cantankerous Ray, they find that they have unwittingly stumbled into a multi-million dollar art theft orchestrated by a violent gang of criminals led by John the Baptist (David Zayas). 


Force of Nature is undoubtedly a painful watch. In many respects it is difficult to pinpoint any one element that stands out as worse than the rest. Cinematography, performance, direction, scripting, editing and pacing all meld together into one offensive tapestry that seems intent on screaming “this is a waste of your time”. 


Visually, Force of Nature has a tendency to burn the retinas with an unwatchable colour palette, mixing horrendously oversaturated blues in exterior shots with yellow-graded interiors that are so blown out you can barely see. It almost seems like someone accidentally sent the raw footage pre-colour grade to the cinema, but then you realise that even that would be unlikely to look as cheap and poorly made as Force of Nature


Then there’s the story itself. The plot unfurls in twists and turns that make absolutely no sense, with inclusions that seem faintly ridiculous at first and only get more grating as time goes by - like baking a loaf of sourdough bread, and deciding to add a turtle to the mix. There’s a cop killing his girlfriend plotline, an ageing cop with dialysis requirements, a Nazi, an art thief and a locked up panther. None of these plot lines meld well together - or even logically so. The crushing mix of half thought out stories ensures that none of the stories are well thought out or planned, and all disappoint. 


Force of Nature is edited together as if the editor took shots at a dart board to pick the order, and is shot from the strangest array of angles you can imagine. Whether it is 65% of the frame being filled with blank wall, or angles during a fight scene from a steep angle above ensuring you cannot see a thing, Force of Nature is a painful example of how not to edit or shoot a film. 


From a performance perspective, everyone on display is doing the worst work of their career. Emile Hirsch is a FAR cry from his work in Into The Wild - here coming across as a constantly grating cocky asshole whose seemingly irresistible charm makes zero sense. Kate Bosworth is given a one note character that she does nothing with, and the remainder of the cast makes little to no impression. That is, except for Mel Gibson, who makes a number of incredibly strange choices in this film. With a weird accent, a rapid fire dialogue, and a character who spends half of their time confined to an armchair, Gibson’s Ray is out of place in this movie. 


The real problem with Force of Nature is that none of these disparate elements are in the least bit fun. With a terrible looking movie, full of horrid dialogue and performers clearly just counting the seconds until the paycheck lands, one would hope that perhaps there might be a little bit of a ‘so bad it’s good’ vibe. But this film transcends any level of remote enjoyment. It is a painful endeavour to watch, and one that makes you regret ever contemplating this as a viable entertainment option.


Force of Nature is as unnatural and abhorrent a creation as cinema has ever produced.