Hollywood disaster thrillers should bow down to Norway’s ‘The Wave’


courtesy of collider.com

A heart-pounding disaster thriller from Norway puts Hollywood to shame.

The Wave, or Bølgen as it’s known in its native language, is a Norwegian drama/thriller that crept into a few theaters in America thanks to Magnolia Pictures, but still remained fairly undercover. The plot is quite bare and simple at first glance: there is going to be a tsunami and no one knows when. However, this film isn’t your typical Hollywood disaster thriller. The Wave stands out on all levels.

For one thing, when was the last time you saw a film from Norway? Probably not very recently, if at all. From the opening shot, this film already makes an impact. Shot in the beautiful hills of a Norwegian village by the sea called Geiranger, the film captures the vast and profound beauty of the story while simultaneously capturing views which leave an imprint in the mind. It is through this clever formula that the film never ceases to be captivating. When there isn’t action, the feeling of impending action is always looming ominously, keeping audiences at the edge of their seat.

The story predominantly follows the path of Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), a geologist set to move to the city with his family before he gets stuck in the middle of some speculation of a landslide occurring and causing a tsunami which, based on an actual fact, is bound to happen at any moment on the Åkneset mountain pass. When it does actually happen (in the film, that is), Kristian struggles to get his daughter up the hill so that they are high up enough for when the tsunami hits. Meanwhile, his wife and son are locked in a bomb shelter underneath the hotel where she works.

The effects of this film are terrifyingly beautiful. Chances are, most of us have never experienced an actual tsunami. But watching The Wave is a pretty close experience. This story really sucks you into the mind and heart of Kristian as he nearly dies several times trying to save his family.

The story is a very tender one featuring excellent performances by all the actors, especially Joner, whose raw emotion ultimately carries the entire film when it comes down to it. The film is extremely moving and emotional, creating a few very authentic tear-jerking moments, and I seldom use that term.

The Wave shows the true beauty in the art of cinema: a simple plot can be made into an extremely powerful story when well executed. Although at times it seems the filmmakers are pandering to an American audience (definitely not enough people die over the course of this film), the movie still speaks for itself as a beautiful and powerful piece of art.

This is a thriller unlike any other and should truly serve as a prime example to American filmmakers of what a disaster thriller should look and feel like. Being the only movie of its kind ever made in Norway, The Wave defies all expectations and does a better job connecting with a foreign audience than Hollywood thrillers do with a domestic one.

Rating: 8/10