Possible spoilers ahead!
I’ve been dying to see the Norwegian film “The Wave” ever since I saw the trailer for it earlier this year. Lucky for me, the movie is now available on Netflix and I finally got to see it.
The movie takes place Geiranger, one of the most coveted tourist spots in all of Norway. And with stunning cinematography, it’s easy to see why. Geiranger has gorgeous mountains and crystal clear lakes bring new travelers every year. But, as the opening news footage warns us, any village at the base of a mountain, especially one as big as Åkerneset, is a ticking time bomb.
The main character in “The Wave” is Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), he may not be father of the year, but he is the most vigilant employee at the Geiranger warning center. With the likelihood of a rockslide, and an accompanying tsunami wave that would careen through the valley, demands a staff of people to monitor the land and water 24/7.
Kristian is leaving his job at the warning center, moving to a new job in the city with his wife and kids. Of course, they’re leaving a day too late. First, there are some odd readings about groundwater on the mountain disappearing. Then there’s Kristian’s realization that the substratum are shifting so drastically that an avalanche is imminent. Like in most disaster movies, the rest of his staff just think he’s overreacting.
When the natural disaster finally hits, the special effect are incredible. As Kristian and his daughter are headed for higher ground, his wife and son are at the hotel at which she works, trying to get the guests to safety before getting trapped in an underground bomb shelter. When the wave arrives in Geiranger, it does so with biblical force, and director Roar Uthaug does an excellent job of keeping the danger realistic and the tension sky-high. You really don’t know if these people are going to make it out alive.
From the moment the warning sirens hit, my wife and I were on the edge of our seats. In fact, “The Wave” is now my wifey’s favorite movie of the year.
“The Wave” hits all the beats of a Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie like “2012” or “San Andreas.” There’s the long set-up introducing the main characters in which only one of them knows the truth about the impending doom. That’s followd by the event itself, and it finished off with the aftermath, in which everything has changed for the characters and they’re struggling to get back together.
The difference between the Hollywood disaster movies and “The Wave” is that some of the Hollywood films are too long and/or poorly done. “The Wave” however, is well-constructed film from beginning to end. It starts with a slow-burn build-up that is just long enough to get your heart rate going. The natural disaster itself is one of the most harrowing I’ve seen in a movie in years. And the final act is intense enough to keep the viewer engaged. At the end of the day, “The Wave” is one hell of a movie.
Roar Uthaug been tapped to direct the 2018 reboot of “Tomb Raider,” and I hope he brings the same energy to that film that he did here. If he does, Lara Croft’s next adventure should be epic.
“The Wave” final score: 9