In the past decade Americans have discovered the riches to
be found in contemporary Scandinavian cinema, including horror films,
thrillers, mysteries, and black comedies. Now comes something entirely
different: a Norwegian disaster movie that takes its blueprint from Hollywood.
That’s not to
discredit The Wave. It’s very well
done, and the visual effects are properly spectacular, but it takes all its
story beats from mainstream movies we’ve seen many times before.
The hero (Kristoffer
Joner, who recently appeared in The
Revenant) is a geologist who’s been studying the shifts and movements in a
mountainous area of Norway where a rockslide is inevitable, and the tsunami it
will generate in the fjord below will certainly cause a catastrophe. He has
been lured away from his job (or rather, his obsession) to the big city and is in
the process of moving with his wife and two children when something he senses impels
him to turn back. This means he is separated from his family, and if you’ve
seen any disaster movies, you know what happens next.
ingredients are here for potent drama: suspense, adversity, trying to beat the
odds, and summoning courage when all seems lost. Director Roar Uthaug and
writers John Kåre Raake, Harald Rosenløw-Eeg haven’t missed a trick.
Wave is reasonably credible, and not as preposterous as San Andreas, so while it’s eminently
watchable I can’t say it has anything new to offer. If you’re curious to see
how another country tackles a Hollywood staple—or how good visual effects have
become, worldwide—then you might want to give it a try.