Wave, The (2016)


thewave-posterStarring Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Fridtjov Såheim

Directed by Roar Uthaug

The Wave isn’t an actual horror film. What it is is a disaster piece with some truly harrowing moments, a few catastrophic revelations and some admirable displays of resilience. It’s a picture about terror and the will to survive, the refusal to accept an ugly fate and determination to prevail at absolutely all costs. It’s about family and the refusal to see a cohesive unit fall at the hands of Mother Nature. And, for the record, it’s an astonishing and riveting piece of work overseen by a truly brilliant filmmaker in Roar Uthaug, who already gifted us standout pictures Cold Prey and Escape.

Delving too deep into the story itself isn’t really required. There’s a landslide, and then there’s an avalanche, and then a small Norwegian village is forced to stare down 100-foot waves as a tsunami crashes down upon an unsuspecting group, obliterating everything in its paths. It’s pandemonium to the nth degree, and this group of survivors will be put in some precarious and deadly situations, their resolve the only hope for survival. And in the middle of it all is Kristian, his wife Idun and their children, all of whom become separated. None, however, loses hope, and although they do become separated, there’s nothing that can keep Kristian from finding and reuniting with his loved ones.

The fact that the film utilizes a solid 45 minutes to introduce the focal characters really pays off. By the time insanity ensues, we’ve got a real feel for the family, and they’re all likable personalities. This isn’t a broken home here; this is a cohesive familial unit that we’re really hoping to see escape such a terrifying event. The odds are against them, but love and unbreakable wills will see that a true parting is just about as unlikely as the catastrophe itself.

Kristian is your everyman, which in a sense makes him quite the unlikely savior. But sometimes it’s the everyman with everything to lose, which provides the motivation to rise above all. And Kristian does just that, gaining the viewer’s respect every step of the way. Kristoffer Joner is superbly cast in this role. He’s got viewers hanging by a thread, praying he can spit in the face of the worst of odds. And, he just so happens to get some help, primarily from his wife Idun, played by the headstrong and refined Ane Dahl Torp. She’s comfortable handling all emotions, and her fortitude is respect worthy and magnetic. There are quite a few bit players involved here, and not one misses a beat, but the show ultimately is Joner and Torp’s alone. Magnificent duo here that we cannot help but cheer for.

The cinematography is awe-inspiring, the visuals often taking our breaths away. And while blockbuster films of similar nature, like, say Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (not a mirrored concept, but you get the idea), often look drenched in unconvincing digital effects, we don’t get that from The Wave. The downfall of this community looks disturbingly real. This is convincing, jarring imagery if ever we’ve seen it. In fact, I may go so far as to declare this the most aesthetically pleasing disaster film I’ve ever seen.

As a whole, there isn’t a single player in this cast and crew who fumbles the ball. Every second is captivating. Uthaug (and writers John Kåre Raake, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg) hit a home run in building character development to a degree that we, the viewers, truly do invest in the on-screen personalities. That’s something that often goes missing from films like this. But Uthaug isn’t concerned with the early slow pacing because he knows it’s all going to pay off. And to his credit, the 45 minutes spent introducing us to the protagonists is a far cry from boring. Rather, it’s enlightening and effective in reminding us that this movie isn’t about tsunamis, it’s about love and family.

It’s not hard to praise this one too much. It’s hard to find a fault in the production. It’s hard to find a reason to not recommend this to just about anyone. The Wave is a modern day masterpiece that succeeds in continuing to add huge momentum to Roar Uthaug’s already surging career. This is a name we’re going to be hearing a lot of in the future, and it’s deserved. The man crafts mesmerizing cinema that’s going to leave a mark in the history books.

Recommended? You bet your ass!

  • Film
User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)


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