Awarded the title of Scandinavia’s first disaster movie, The Wave seems to have picked the first destination for a disaster to take place. Conventional genre plot devices are given the Norwegian twist.
The Wave follows knowledgeable hero geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) who predicts that a tsunami will hit the sleepy tourist town of Geiranger on Norway’s Geirangerfjord. He is packing up his two children and wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) as they are set to move to Stavanger so he can work in the oil industry, so his colleagues assume his concerns for the monster tsunami is nothing more than a poor attempt at avoiding an inevitable move. Sure enough the tsunami comes with very little warning, wreaking havoc in the fjords and it is up to Kristian to find his missing wife and son while cradling what seems to be the rest of the town.
The major highlight of The Wave is its use of the stunning Norwegian locations, which lend themselves to draw-dropping vistas from every camera angle. It’s the perfect setting for an abrupt transition from a peaceful nature to an unstoppable destruction of a monster wave that roars through the gorge. The film was made on a 6 million Euro budget, and in both a positive and negative sense it shows. It seems that all the money went to the special effects needed to depict such a disaster, and indeed the special effects are true highlight of the film. However, it seems that everything surrounding the spectacular destruction of Geiranger comes across as nothing more than low-budget filler, and the laziness in storyline and character development show. While this is an element that would bother some movie-goers, others (presumably those into disaster movies) are able to surpass this and enjoy the film as nothing more than entertainment.
Part of what makes The Wave stand out from its American cousins is the wholly Scandinavian concern for others that you simply don’t see in American disaster films. While his colleagues dismiss him, they venture out to check to make sure everything is okay. Where a typical disaster movie would surround its main characters with dozens of nameless extras to be killed off, Kristian and Idun do everything they can to help find their friends and neighbours escape certain doom.
Overall, the Norwegian disaster movie benefits from its local focus, but ultimately it’s plagued by the same flaws as so many big budget equivalents. For example, the scientific team who discover the threat are the focus of the first half hour, but then find themselves sidelines. In our opinion, the disaster would pack more of a punch if we’d spend more time with the threatened community instead, but if you love light entertainment and disasters then you’ll enjoy this film regardless.