Gerard Butler is mostly known for his growling, scowling presence in mostly bad films. In his latest role, he does mostly the same as he has before. However, the film around him is better than average and a creative, scrappy take on the disaster film. I don't know if audiences want to watch a film in 2020 about the world ending from a giant comet but if they do, they could do a lot worse than Greenland.
Butler plays Leo, a structural engineer who gets picked by a government lotto to be transported to a bunker in Greenland with his wife and son. Why does he get picked? It is a bit unexplained aside from the world will need structural engineers when they try and rebuild things. See this comet from another solar system is a planet killer. The world is ending and Leo and his family are the lucky ones.
His wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and he have been fighting when the film opens. We learn why later in the film. It's one of the weaker tropes that director Ric Roman Waugh relies on. The father must redeem himself by saving his family is a played out story and it isn't done well here. What is done well is the suspense. Getting to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia is a feat. Once they get there, Leo's son Nathan is turned away due to his diabetes.
Things go from hopeful to hopeless quickly in Greenland. From there, Leo is separated from his family and Nathan is even kidnapped at one point. The film's dour nature is refreshing as it shows how hard it would be for a normal family to even make it to safety. The film also doesn't ignore the millions of people not chosen for the bunker and that their fate is extinction.
The film has a small budget that ends up being its biggest strength. It causes the focus to be on smaller, more realistic and tragic, human moments rather than endless scenes of landmarks getting destroyed. It eventually gets to that but before it is a scrappy B-movie with a few tricks up its sleeve. Waugh is skillful at creating tense scenes and making us care about the fate of this family. Greenland made my heart race and palms sweat and what more could I want from a disaster flick. Sure it is dumb at times but it is also surprisingly entertaining.