Norway takes a crack at a Hollywood-style disaster flick with The Wave, a tsunami thriller rife with clichés—but surprisingly light on actual disaster.
Kristian (Kristoffer Joner, who looks like the result of a romantic getaway between Norman Reedus and Kevin Bacon) is getting ready for a job change: He’s going to move away from scientifically obsessing over a mountain pass in Norway to take a gig in the oil industry. You see, this particular mountain pass was the setting for a major tsunami many years ago, and his heart rate goes up every time the mountain twitches a bit.
He’s got a pretty wife, Idun (Ane Dahl Torp); a cranky teenage skateboarder son named Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro); and a precocious little daughter. They are all set to start their new life away from the mountain pass when the ground starts to shimmy; the computer-alarm thingamajigs start to blink a lot; and Kristian’s worst nightmares begin to come true. Yes, right in time for his big career move, a tsunami is on its way.
The Wave doesn’t seem to be sending a very positive message about trying to change careers during one’s middle age. It seems to be saying that if you try to shake up your life, a crushing wave will try to drown your friends and family, and you will most certainly have to get a new car when all is said and done. Perhaps the wave is symbolic of credit-card debt and past relationship issues accrued by the time you are 45. Who knows.
There’s a lot of melodramatic buildup involving Kristian, his family and all of his apprehensions. Then the tsunami strikes with a disaster sequence that lasts about 15 to 20 minutes, and then everybody is wet, and lots of stuff is on fire.
Director Roar Uthaug does what he can with a small budget and a solid cast. The tsunami sequence, although short, is well-played, and you can’t complain about that beautiful Norwegian scenery.
However, there’s no denying the extreme lack of originality in scripting and staging. Every disaster flick trope, with the exception of the villainous naysayer who gets everybody killed, can be found here.
Much of this movie involves the tsunami aftermath, with characters swimming a lot. It all reminds very much of The Poseidon Adventure, although it’s missing the spark of a Gene Hackman-type yelling at God and arguing about which way to go with Ernest Borgnine.
Mind you, I didn’t totally dislike The Wave. Torp does a damn fine job of almost drowning a lot and, well, being wet. Joner isn’t all bad as the Chief-Brody-in-Jaws-type who is trying to get everybody to listen to his warnings, with little success.
I guess there’s room for a sequel: The Wave 2: Even Wavier, during which a tsunami follows Kristian to his next job, like the vengeful shark in Jaws: The Revenge. You know, the shark that somehow knew where Ellen Brody was at all times, and managed to follow her to the Caribbean? This wave knows where you’re going; it knows what you are thinking; and there is no escape. Unless, of course, you climb Mount Everest, because it can’t get you up there. Or … can it?
I’m just being mean now. As far as disaster flicks go, The Wave is worlds better than crap like San Andreas and that one in which Sylvester Stallone (He was robbed at the Oscars!) got stuck in a dark tunnel with Viggo Mortensen and the actress from Judging Amy. Wait … maybe The Wave isn’t better than Daylight. Hmm … I think I’m going to watch Daylight in a double feature with The Poseidon Adventure!
The Wave is available on demand and via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com. It’s also now playing at the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, PalmDesert; 760-779-0430).