Cast: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Tom McCarthy, Liam James, Morgan Lily, Zlatko Buric, Beatrice Rosen, Alexandre Haussmann, Philippe Haussmann, Johann Urb, John Billingsley, George Segal, Stephen McHattie, Patrick Bauchau, Jimi Mistry
2hr 38min – Rated 12A – Action/Drama/Science fiction – English
2012 is to my mind the latest in a slew of movies which show that the preoccupation of the science-fiction genre is becoming an underlying fear that humankind will be afflicted by a disastrous environmental event that it cannot prevent. Or maybe one that it should be able to prevent but can’t because of the limitations of it’s current vision. This time around the Mayans provide the basis of the plot with their prediction that in 2012 the world will endure a great change, in the movie this takes the form of a cataclysmic heating of the Earth’s crust which causes it to dramatically re-align thus spreading much chaos and devastation.
Underpinning the plot are traditional morality themes; the rich man who buys his seat on the Arks constructed to weather this storm dies as does his fake and philandering partner (and the chauffeur who she has obviously had a fling with). John Cusack meanwhile survives against the odds and is reunited with his former partner after coming to terms with his flaws. Cusack still reminds me of the grumpy record-store owner in High Fidelity and his one-liners are very much in that vein.
Meanwhile, the American President (suspiciously Obama like) is brave and true and dies with his people (despite the fact he has kept the knowledge of imminent doom a secret and conspired through assassination to keep it so until the very last). The rich nations conspire to keep this dreadful secret and produce the Arks in Communist China for the great, the good and those fiscally well-endowed enough to pay only to discover at the end the African continent survived the maelstrom intact.
The special effects are amazing and the story is gripping because these elements weave together well enough to keep the audience glued to their seats and the moving moments of genuine emotional gravity are well-acted enough to emotionally involve the viewer. However, the deeper message is unclear because the disaster is in itself unpreventable though more could have been saved by swifter, less selfless, action earlier. If the implication is that to avert a possible incoming climate catastrophe we should rely on societies existing structure (we are told private enterprise and the sale of seats makes the Arks possible) and adapt as best we can then that is a counsel of despair for the billions that die in 2012‘s fictional universe.