In this movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor (who, in recent years, has become one of my favorite actors) plays Adrian Helmsley, a geologist working for the U.S. Government. He discovers that the world is coming to an end. I won’t pretend to understand all the scientific babble they use to explain the process, but something to do with the sun is going to basically frak s**t up on Earth, wiping out most of humanity. He informs the President of The United States (played by Danny Glover), and a top-secret plan is put in place to build several large ships, where certain people (government officials, rich folks, etc.) can be taken to when the destruction begins, and be safe until everything is over.
John Cusack plays Jackson Curtis, a divorced science fiction writer who wrote one book that bombed, and is currently working as a limo driver. While taking his two young children camping in Yellowstone National Park, he meets a pirate radio talk show host named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who tells him about the coming destruction. Jackson at first just dismisses Charlie as a wacko conspiracy theorist, but then begins to suspect that what he said is true, and when a massive Earthquake hits Los Angeles, Jackson gathers his kids, his ex-wife, and her new husband, and attempts to get them to safety via plane, and find out where the secret government ships are.
There are a couple of subplots, like the President’s daughter, Laura (Thandie Newton), who is involved in a project to get various priceless artifacts, like the Mona Lisa, and lock them away safely. She thinks she’s doing it to protect the artifacts from possible terrorist attacks, but when some of her colleagues (people who find out the truth about the upcoming destruction) started dying or getting killed in “mysterious circumstances” she goes to her father to find out what’s going on. There also appears to be a bit of a budding romance between her and Adrian, although it’s not really explored much in the film. I guess that’s for the best since the film already was dealing with the tension between Jackson, his ex-wife, and her new husband, so we can’t have too much relationship stuff in the film.
We also get some scenes with Adrian’s father, who is a musician, playing on a cruise, with his best friend, and some stuff about the friend not talking to his son in years because his son married a Japanese woman, and then when he finds out the world is ending he tries to call them to make amends before it’s too late. I didn’t really get the point of that stuff.
The thing is, the movie is full of plot holes that require HUGE leaps in logic to make it work. And just way too much implausibility. We see Jackson driving through Los Angeles during the middle of this massive Earthquake and managing to effortless dodge all the falling debris and cracked streets. And then three different times during the movie we see the main characters flying off in an airplane, getting off the ground at the last possible minute before it collapses underneath them. It’s like, okay, it’s suspenseful the first time that happens, but not the 2nd or 3rd time, okay?
And there’s also a bit at the end where one of the special ships is in danger of crashing into a mountain if it can’t get unstuck, but I kept thinking, if this ship is specially built to basically ride out the end of the world, shouldn’t it be strong enough to survive hitting a mountain?
But despite all this, and other things I won’t mention, for fear of spoiling, I must confess that I rather enjoyed this film. It’s saved by the special effects. The scenes of destruction, with the Earthquakes and such, are very well done. and I like watching them. Y’know how horror movies like SAW get described as “torture porn”? Well, this film is “Apocolypse porn”. If you like to watch s**t falling apart and people getting killed, then this is the film for you!
TWO THUMBS UP!