Just because Hollywood sucks in all that is good from around the globe, making pointless English language remakes of subtitled films and utilising stars from the best in world cinema, doesn’t mean the world can’t steal something back. With The Wave, Norway have ripped off the Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie with all its heightened emotions, stock characters and CGI destruction intact.
Set in the stunning mountain pass of Åkneset, located in the Geiranger fjord in Norway, a geologist and his family are preparing to pack their things and leave for the big city where father Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) has secured a new job. His wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) works in the local hotel that is always full of tourists who flood the tiny community in order to take sightseeing trips through the magnificent landscape. While Idun and the two children are focussed on the move, Kristian cannot let his job go, and becomes quickly convinced that a disaster is about to hit Åkneset.
As the opening titles show, there are 300 unstable mountainsides in the region and 7 million cubic metres of rock that could at any time fall into the water below. That amount of water being displaced so quickly could cause an 80 meter high tsunami and drown everyone in its path. Take a guess what happens next.
Even though The Wave sounds like it should sit comfortably in la-la-land alongside such recent Hollywood efforts as San Andreas and Into the Storm, it comes across as surprisingly far more real. The characters might be a bland generic family unit that get separated at a pivotal point in the movie, but the setting and real-world context offered at the beginning of the movie makes The Wave far more believable. At no point does Kristian shout down the phone to his son “I will come for you” like Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow and he’s a far more convincing father figure than The Rock ever could be. Sorry Dwayne.
When the tsunami finally hits after a wonderfully suspenseful build up, The Wave unleashes some pretty impressive CGI considering the less-than-Hollywood budget and then keeps the action intense by fine-tuning the scope of the film to a very personal rescue mission. There’s a series of visceral set-pieces and the whole production looks like it costs a fortune. The characters are too conventional to fully saturate your emotions but as the film drips with tension, it will keep you gripped throughout.
The cast and director Roar Uthaug all handle the material brilliantly, so it’s a shame that the script is quite so slavish to generic formula. However, there is an excellent swerve in the dark to watch out for late in the game as mother Idun must go to extreme places to save her son. See The Wave before Hollywood gets its hands on it and remakes the film with some obnoxious American tourists as the heroes.
THE WAVE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ROAR UTHAUG / SCREENPLAY: JOHN KARE RAAKE, HARALD ROSENLOW EEG / STARRING: KRISTOFFER JONER, ANE DAHL TORP / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10