Norway takes a crack at the Hollywood-like disaster flick with The Wave, a tsunami thriller rife with clichés and is surprisingly light on actual disaster.
Kristian (Kristoffer Joner, who looks like the result of a romantic Norwegian 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 for 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 the pretty Norwegian wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp), a cranky teenaged skateboarder son named Sondre (Jonas Hoff Ofebro) and a precocious little daughter named The Little Girl with the Stuffed Animal. 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 turn orange and 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.
I'll just take a break in this here review to say The Wave doesn't seem to be sending a very positive message about trying to change careers during middle age. It seems to be saying that if you try to shake up your life, a big crushing wave will try to drown friends and family, and you will most certainly have to get a new car when all is said and done. I feel the wave is symbolic of credit card debt and past relationship issues accrued by the time you are 45. End break.
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 followed by everybody being wet and lots of stuff on fire. Yes, I know, gas explosions and such might cause some blazes, but literally everything is on fire minutes after a huge wave rolls through.
Director Roar Uthaug does what he can with a little budget and a solid cast. The tsunami sequence, although short, is well played, and you can't complain about that beautiful Norwegian scenery.
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, is featured. Much of this movie involves the tsunami aftermath with characters swimming under water 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. Actually, I feel like watching The Poseidon Adventure now. Gene Hackman hanging from the steam valve: "You want another life? Then take me!" Awesome.
Perhaps my referencing other films and talking about midlife crisis betrays the fact that I didn't think much of The Wave. Mind you, I didn't totally dislike it. 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 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, where 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 ... there is no escape. Unless, of course, you climb Mt. 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 where 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? I'm going to watch Daylight in a double feature with The Poseidon Adventure!