The Wave Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Roar Uthaug
Written by John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenlew Eeg
2016, 105 Minutes, Not Rated
Kristoffer Joner as Kristian
Ane Dahl Torp as Idun
Thomas Bo Larsen as Philip
Fridtjov Såheim as Arvid
Even though he’s taken a new job with a high-profile oil company in a big city, Kristian is drawn back to his old office with the seismology team watching the rocky mountain faces overlooking Geiranger. The beautiful tourist town is sea-level with the fjord, offering perfect views...and perfect danger should that rockface collapse and cause a tsunami. On Kristian’s last day in Geiranger, the unthinkable happens. Now he must race through the town to get his family to safety before an 80-meter wave destroys everyone and everything in its path.
The Wave is a thrilling contender for Foreign Language Oscar nominations. Kristoffer Joner (who plays Kristian) delivers a heartfelt performance as a passionate scientist and devoted father. Ane Dahl Torp is wonderful as Idun, a patient wife but determined mother who loves her husband and knows when to reel in his obsession with seismology.
There are a few too-convenient plot points that keep The Wave from being seamless: the bureaucrat over Kristian takes a shockingly long time to take the threat of the mountain’s shift seriously. And his former co-workers seem oddly reluctant to believe him. They make jokes about having to check his work, but for a tsunami estimated at 80 meters, you’d think they’d be willing to run the checks without hesitation: this is their home too, after all.
These as-expected plot devices are balanced by some completely unexpected acts of heroism from the supporting characters. It gives the story the depth it needs. While The Wave is great, it has a familiar feel to it and the willingness to make minor characters the saviors was a bold choice. Resting this story on the smaller moments gives it a much more intimate feel; any bigger and it would feel impersonal and implausible.
The special effects are perfect; when the water rushes through the town, it’s easy to forget it’s not really there - you fear for the family and this solid wall of destruction racing down at them. The buildings shaking as the tsunami tears through Geiranger makes you shake in your seat as you anticipate disaster.
Perhaps the most terrifying part of The Wave is that it’s entirely possible. The Geirganger Fjord is, in fact, surrounded by the Akerneset mountain, which is predicted to collapse sooner rather than later. Geiranger is just ten minutes down the fjord, and depending on the size of the collapse, the devastation could be total.
While not perfect, it’s a great action movie and with Oscar buzz. The Wave is worth the view.