I love the fact that JJ Abrams spits out surprise movies every once in a while. Up until a few months ago none of us knew that this movie was even a thing. Is it part of the original Cloverfield universe? No. But thematically, in that we, as an audience, know as much as the characters do - absolutely.
Michelle (as played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has broken off her engagement and is driving off to who knows where when her car crashes. When she wakes up, she's in a cement room, handcuffed to the wall. That's when Howard shows up, saying that the outside world has collapsed in a possible nuclear fallout and he rescued her. Howard if played by John Goodman, who plays the role with the perfect mixture of menace, naivete, and seriousness. Rounding out the bunker is our final person, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). All we know about him is that he has a broken arm and apparently forced himself into the bunker against Howard's better wishes.
What's real? Who's lying? Is the world really ending? All these are questions that we have, and the brilliance of the movie is that it answers them one at a time. Because we're kept in the dark about so much, as each layer gets revealed, we get to see if what we're thinking is actually true. It's a brilliant way to let the movie unfold.
Rather than talk about the movie's story (because that would ruin a lot of the surprises that are in store), I'd rather just spend a minute on the actors. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character is like few we've seen on film. She spends the entire movie doing whatever she possibly can to get to the truth as to why she's in the bunker. If she has to lie, steal, or bludgeon whoever or whatever she has to, to get at the truth, then she absolutely will. She's rightfully scared at her situation, but she never lets that fear take over. And John Goodman matches her step for step. And, amazingly, as strong as a performance that he has, there's nothing more terrifying than a clean-shaven John Goodman.
That's not that much more to say. Pay attention during the film. Lot's of seemingly throwaway lines have real meaning.
I thought it was great.