You would think an apocalyptic disaster film is exactly what we don’t need right now, but Greenland is here to prove us wrong, balancing the inevitable cynicism of end-of-the-world scenarios with an incredible optimism in humanity and our capacity to care for one another. There are plenty of us who would loot storefronts and look out only for themselves, attacking friends for an opportunity at survival. Then there are others, folks just doing their job because their job is helping people. In times of great strife and great need, they are there for us consistently and selflessly. Amid the film’s tired yet somehow moving character work, where a failing marriage and a family on the skids must heal itself while fire rains down from the sky, there are real overtures to the people around us who care for us: the military brethren who usher us out of the darkness, and the doctors and nurses who are first on the scene, working tirelessly to save us from the world or from ourselves. When Monica Baccarin’s distraught mother is desperately looking for her lost son, it’s a single nurse in a triage tent who finally shows them compassion. The world is ending and their nurse has no place in whatever new world shelter they’re running towards, and yet there she is, offering insulin, a bus ticket, and a place to rest for the time being. Greenland might look like it’s about burly Gerard Butler doing his surly husband and father routine, struggling to keep his family together, to whisk them overseas to an underground bunker in the titular country, and it’s all of those things too. To some extent, Greenland is to disaster movies what The Conjuring was to haunted house movies. It’s able to render everything familiar as unfamiliar once again, rooting its story firmly on the ground where it belongs. More than that, however, it’s a prophetic tribute to the frontline workers, the folks who provide for us when the shit hits the fan. They don’t ask for anything in return but our respect. So let’s give them their due and do our best to mask up and behave responsibly. The world will accept nothing less of us.
P.S. Scott Glenn makes any movie better. Give us more Scott Glenn, Hollywood.
Available to rent on-demand on VUDU, Fandango Now, and Amazon Prime Video.