In a time where police brutality is rampant, the last thing that people need right now is a gritty cop thriller. Unfortunately, that’s just the time when the film Force of Nature decided to step onto the crime scene.
The movie starring Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch tells the story of a group of cops who are sent to Puerto Rico to thwart a heist for 55 million dollars, but things get complicated when a category five hurricane hits.
The film has already come under fire for what many deem to be its insensitive and tone-deaf portrayal of Puerto Rican people, the disaster of Hurricane Maria in 2017, and of course, police. Here are some of the things that makes this film problematic in today’s social context.
It’s insensitive to those that suffered from Hurricane Maria
One of the film’s chief criticisms is how it’s insensitive to those that went through the life-threatening and traumatic experience of Hurricane Maria.
Back in 2017, the category five hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico. The disaster killed at least approximately 3,000 people, but the exact number is still highly uncertain.
Beyond the high fatality rate, the hurricane also destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s power grid, homes, and utilities. Most families were left without electricity, cell service, and even running water in the aftermath of the event.
Puerto Rico still struggled to recover even 18 months after.
So I just saw that Mel Gibson is trending and why… Dude, if you’re going to do a movie about PR being hit by Cat. 5 hurricane, could actually make it something meaningful, revolving around Boricuas that had to suffer through that kind of disaster, and not whatever this shit is?
— EJ 🇵🇷 (@mysterybox950) May 19, 2020
While Force of Nature doesn’t necessarily specify the name of the hurricane in it, the fact that it’s also category five disaster in Puerto Rico, unfortunately, doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
Gibson’s character Ray is also portrayed as being very resistant to the idea of evacuating with his daughter, Troy, played by Kate Bosworth.
The fact he’s not willing to leave despite the hurricane also comes off as insensitive to those who’ve gone through the horror of surviving such an experience.
It’s outright disrespectful to the people who went through the traumatic experience that was Hurricane Maria, for Mel Gibson and any Hollywood company to come to Puerto Rico and make a movie where the islanders are the bad guys, and he and the white people are the good guys.
— gile (@mvriegil) May 19, 2020
Another criticism of the film is how it portrays native Puerto Ricans. Despite being set in Puerto Rico, the film’s antagonists are also Puerto Rican.
Considering the main cast and protagonists are all white, this gives the film a big “white savior” feel that arguably leaves a bitter taste in the audience. Villainizing the native inhabitants of a setting is also a poor storytelling choice in general.
Combining the villainization of Puerto Rican people, along with coming off as insensitive to those who had to go through Hurricane Maria, Force Of Nature is already insensitive enough.
When you consider recent events in reviewing the film though, its taste just gets worse.
The cop characters in the film aren’t the shining example of justice
Many people are already dissatisfied with law enforcement considering the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the rising police brutality in the wake of protests.
Force of Nature having the cop character Officer Cardillo and ex-detective Ray, played by Emile Hirsch and Mel Gibson respectively, isn’t the best cinematic choice in a time like this. The characters of Cardillo and Ray aren’t the most morally upright ones either.
Both character seem to have an underlying distrust of civilians, and Cardillo even discourages his protogé Jess from trying to save evacuees, claiming they’ll file a complaint which will ruin her.
Wait, Mel Gibson participated in something racist?!
No way. *pretends to be shocked*
There’s arguably nothing the world needs less right now than Force of Nature, a movie starring Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch as trigger-happy cops with violent pasts.https://t.co/QpWk61Nd1p
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) June 26, 2020
This point proves to be especially untrue in today’s context, where many officers who have committed acts of violence against people are either not prosecuted, or they simply fade into anonymity in another police department.
Cardillo’s backstory is especially bitter to take in. He’s now a disgraced cop after accidentally shooting an innocent woman. This is also cruelly ironic since Hirsch has previously been guilty of assaulting a woman.
Mel Gibson’s character Ray is also a similarly grizzled ex-detective, which makes him problematic enough. In addition, Gibson has also been known for making racist and anti-semitic remarks in the past.
More like a “farce” of nature
Considering current events such as protests and widespread police brutality, Force of Nature is already a rather poor-timed film. As opposed to where most police-related media is being suspended or cancelled, the movie instead decided to step on out.
Combined with how it poorly portrays the Puerto Rican people and seems callous to those who have gone through Hurricane Maria, the film certainly comes off as extremely tone-deaf and insensitive. Not to mention the movie’s leading actors Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch are already controversial in their own rights.
Many have already taken to social media to decry the film. From issues in the show’s plot to the actors themselves, there’s, unfortunately, no shortage of things for people to criticize.