‘Force of Nature,’ a Mel Gibson Heist Thriller Set in PR Amid a Hurricane, Makes Locals the Bad Guys

Lead Photo: 'Force of Nature' screengrab. Courtesy of Pimienta Film Company.
'Force of Nature' screengrab. Courtesy of Pimienta Film Company.
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The trailer for Force of Nature, a gangs-vs-police heist thriller set in Puerto Rico amid a category 5 hurricane, has been released — and people are pissed. Survivors of 2017’s Hurricane Maria are among the most furious.

Mel Gibson and Kate Bosworth star as father and daughter, the former rigidly refusing storm-mandated evacuation orders and the latter a doctor who urges him to leave. Emile Hirsch plays a (presumably) Puerto Rican cop, Cardillo, who intervenes in a search related to a heist while trying to help Bosworth’s character convince her father to relocate. Gibson just happens to be a retired detective, though, so he becomes involved in Cardillo’s mission to prevent the gang at the center of the film from securing $55 million that have been stowed away.

Beyond the obvious affronts of Force of Nature, there’s the fact that “the biggest role for a Puerto Rican actor is as the lead villain” (that would be David Zayas as “John the Baptist”), tweets @juanjoarroyo23. He’s guessing “we can look forward to Mel Gibson probably shooting him to death.”

Arroyo also points out a disconcerting plot twist to the reality of this movie: One of its executive producers, Luis “Luillo” Ruiz, has admitted to donating to the island’s New Progressive Party — the conservative political party in majority control of all branches of its government, from the House to Senate to Gov. Wanda Vázquez.

This admission of PNP support came out in February, when news broke that Ruiz is being investigated by the FBI for possible preferential treatment in the form of tax breaks of more than $60 million. He has denied any such favoritism during the past eight years of receiving tax credits, citing his own company’s $300 million investment and a resulting economic impact for Puerto Rico of “at least $519 million” and around 14,000 people employed.

Regardless of whether or not the case against Ruiz is legit, the fact stands that a lot of Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the diaspora feel strongly that Force of Nature, as it stands, shouldn’t exist.

Ruiz’s Pimienta Film Company — not to be confused with Pimienta Films, the Mexican independent production company that collaborated with director Alfonso Cuarón on 2018’s Roma — mostly makes video-on-demand releases starring famous U.S. actors that typically aren’t critically well-received. It’s looking like Force of Nature, out June 30 digitally, will fit right in.