Force of Nature review – the film equivalent of a natural disaster

By Marc Miller
Published: July 8, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
Force of Nature review - the film equivalent of a natural disaster


Personally, I liked this film better when it was called Hard Rain starring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater, but not really.

There isn’t much that you can say that you haven’t read before about movies like Force of Nature. It’s a poor heist thriller wrapped in a natural disaster setting with dialogue that defies gravity by lingering in the air above the knee-high water below. It left me dumbfounded.

The shocking thing is this disaster was directed by Michael Polish, one half of the mercurial Polish brother team. Together, they made such distinctive looking and especially sounding films like Jackport, Northfork (a forgotten gem), Twin Falls Idaho, and The Astronaut Farmer, but I’m sure brother Mark is thanking the skies for not being responsible for this script that actually uses the line, “So cliché, so cliché,” yet it isn’t even making fun of itself.

How could he not be with such poetic lines as a response from a villain asking a police officer named Cardillo (played by Emile Hirsh) where the old man (Ray, played by Mel Gibson) is, he responds, “He’s up in my ass, do you want to tickle his feet?” Oh, that’s not all. Scribe Cory Miller found ways to break new ground by having John (David Zayas) the mastermind behind the heist, intimidate a woman with an abnormal amount of astute matter-of-factness by asking, “Will let you know how it feels for a bullet to go through your skin and into your brain?” Yup, it’s that on the nose.

There are bound to be some script problems infilm like this, but I must say I liked this movie in 1997 when it was called Hard Rain starring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater, but not really. Like that film, both have a group of bad guys trying to use a natural disaster to cover up the fact they are stealing a large amount of cash or valuables they don’t have ownership rights to. I’m glad Emile Hirsh is getting some steady work, but he (along with Gibson) is so over-the-top it loses any effectiveness. Kate Bosworth also pops up as Ray’s daughter and does get to flex some heroic muscles, but when she does they stretch the laws of physics and lose any sense of thrills in the process. Force of Nature flirts with some originality that doesn’t quite work considering this place they are robbing isn’t a motel (when you watch — but don’t — you will understand), and Zayas delivers the only coherent line in the film that has a glimpse of competency.

The film though is the kind made with action puzzle pieces you know are coming and are incompletely delivered. For instance, in a stunning act of incompetency that happens a handful of times throughout the movie, a bad guy equipped with a semiautomatic rifle can miss two full-grown adults who are clung together like they are in a three-legged race. The targets are less than ten feet apart, in a narrow hallway, and not one bullet hits their intended destination, and targets run away even though one has a bite mark on his leg that prevents him from walking — yup, Force of Nature, it’s that kind of movie.

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