A timely satire with an all star cast that feels frighteningly close to reality at times, Don’t Look Up is a squirmy end of days watch. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who discover a new comet. Hurrah! Then its trajectory is discovered: it’s headed straight for Earth for a planet killing impact – bigger than the dinosaurs. Oh.
They try and warn the authorities but are turned away by President Meryl Streep and her toadying son Jonah Hill, who are only interested in populism and avoiding scandal. With the countdown to armageddon ticking away the nervy but good looking DiCaprio gets air time on FOX News alike programme the ‘Rip,’ and finds himself having an affair with Cate Blanchett’s soulless anchorwoman whilst the more hysterical Lawrence is left out in the cold. There are cutting, hardly veiled swipes at the mass media, the lunacy of the Trump administration and anti-vaxxers with catchphrases and badges reading “Don’t Look Up” as a way of combating science – even in the prescence of an increasingly large comet appearing in the sky.
Jonah Hill shines in Don’t Look Up as the sneering government advisor, whilst DiCaprio and Lawrence are as dependable as ever. The film occasionally feels as if it thinks it’s funnier than it is, particularly in its opening half-hour, but its vision of a civilization out for individualism and motivated entirely by greed is scarily real. Mark Rylance employs his vocal tics and permaglow teeth as a Steve Jobs/Elon Musk-like billionaire out to monetise the comet without a real clue as to the ramifications of his actions. The spin on trying to make a terrifying threat more palatable to a sleepwalking world is spot on, and there are some genuinely affecting moments between DiCaprio and his family as time begins to run out.
A blend of Dr Strangelove and Armageddon with some freewheeling humour added to the mix, Don’t Look Up is at times petrifying; the world at threat through ignorance, indifference and capitalist excess. Sound familiar?
Dir: Adam McKay (15) (138 mins)
In cinemas now for a limited time only; available for streaming on Netflix from Fri 24 Dec.
words KIERON SELF
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