Norway’s answer to The Impossible is a paint-by-numbers disaster film that offers no surprises, but is a hell of a lot of fun. Unlike The Impossible, The Wave is a fictional event but rooted within reality as a serious catastrophe that has happened in the past, as a small town sits aside a giant fjord which if disturbed in the most extreme manner causes a huge wave to smash everything to pieces.
You will be reminded of pretty much any disaster film that you have seen while watching this, as the focus is on one particular family and their struggle to reunite after the event, as it always is. The central character played by Kristoffer Joner acts like the crazy guy who knows what is about to happen before it happens, and then when it happens runs around cleaning up everyone’s mess because they were too stupid to listen. You have the disinterested kid, the mother who will do anything for the kid even if it means endangering her and everyone else, and plenty of other characters who drift in and out of screen as floating corpses.
The CGI is a little rough around the edges, but still chilling to see, and the acting is a tad hysterical but given the circumstances it is probably applicable. Otherwise, it is exactly as you expect, a formulaic against the odds film with a basic premise resulting in extremely easy viewing. However, it shows moments of darkness both psychologically and emotionally, cranking up the tension to really keep you on the edge of your seat – it isn’t all heroism and crying.
My main gripe is that I wished they had explored these darker aspects more. They had many opportunities to really flip this film on its head, and make this a morbid display of nature gone wrong. Instead, despite being a great deal of fun to watch, it just settles for familiarity. Which is OK, especially for Norway’s first foray into disaster films, even more so when you look at the type of disaster used – top marks for originality there. You could do much worse in the cinema at the moment, and it has been a while since I saw a good disaster film, just keep those expectations exactly where they are and you’ll most likely enjoy this.