The Wave

The Wave

August 28, 2015 105 minutes R

A highly derivative disaster film done very well.

2015 Norwegian flick ‘The Wave‘ hits all the necessary disaster film notes while offering some decent thrills and loads of heart. Nothing revolutionary, nor original. Yet, still a worthy entrance into this overcrowded, much copied genre.

Norwegian geologist Kristian Eikjord’s (Kristoffer Joner) sole responsibility is too observe a precipitous mountainside overlook. If/when that mountain lets go the avalanche into the fjord below would send a 80 metre (260 feet) tsunami racing towards the local resort/fishing community just a few miles away.

With a title like ‘The Wave‘ it’s a reasonable certainty what’s about to happen. And in perfectly plot-contrived fashion Eikjord’s family ends up stranded and separated in town during this predicted by Kristian disaster.

Events leading up to the foregone catastrophe play out well enough. The job obsessed Kristian, his oft-disgruntled wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp), teenage angst-fueled son Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro), and sweet little daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande) all ably perform their in the face of death roles with dramatic flair and appropriate humanity.

As our story’s hero, Kristoffer Joner inherits the brunt of the work. In lesser hands these fraught with peril, cringe-worthy disaster-film cliches might play as parody. Thankfully, this veteran performer deftly and passionately handles his duties.

The set pieces, particularly the “event”, are convincing enough. The aftermath is shot mostly at night limiting the scope somewhat. However, the dark and flooded sets are wonderfully claustrophobic, beautifully lit by only flashlights and fire. With a couple of memorable, corpse riddled sequences to hit home the tragedy.

I’d compare it to more commercialized fare, a la ‘Dante’s Peak’ or ‘The Poseidon Adventure’. This based on true-life “what-if” story simply lacks the weight of a masterpiece like ‘The Impossible’. So come prepared to be entertained; just not stripped to the core wowed.

The Wave‘ / ‘Bølgen‘ has plenty of beautiful Norwegian scenery, convincing performances, and tension-filled drama in a suitably restrained production. Cliches and paper-thin development be damned.


Forgoing deep backstories and subplots gives precedence to the build-up, execution, and aftermath of this looming disaster. Tense and dramatic popcorn entertainment.

About the Author
Chad Schulz