The Impossible on IMDb
The film is set around the 2004 tsunami and its aftermath. Although it claims to a true story the film uses typical Hollywood licence with the real life family of Spaniards replaced by the far more glamorous Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.
We open as our two heroes and their three screaming kids head off to a Christmas holiday in Thailand. The foreshadowing looms large with the kids all saying they hate each other and Naomi losing a page out of her book. It doesn’t stop there and once they arrive the boy is denied a Coke and we catch a glimpse of Mum’s boob as she dons her swimsuit. Remember these points dear reader, they’ll be referenced later and we’ll all say ‘Oh that’s a bit ironic’.
The family are soon holed up in their beach resort and enjoy a carefree Christmas - but beware! those musical cues over the sea suggest a malevolent presence lurking beneath the waves. Soon the men folk are enjoying playing with their new ball in the pool and Naomi loses a page out of her book (remember that from paragraph three!). She chases it down but notes the pane of glass it’s stuck to is vibrating. The birds leave the trees and a rumble is heard. Of course it’s the tsunami - I mean that’s hardly a spoiler seeing as it’s in the trailer.
The big wave hits and the family are scattered. We initially follow Naomi who after getting bumped about a bit soon catches up with her most irritating child, Lucas. The pair trudge out of the water and after Mum’s newly exposed boob (another one!) is hastily put away, they try to find help. Selfish Lucas is taught about the need to help people and they harvest a small blond moppet with a hair fixation. The trio struggle to an overrun hospital and Naomi’s leg is looking a bit dodgy.
Focus then shifts to Ewan who has also ridden the wave to safety. He has hooked up with the other two boys; so we are all alive and all that is needed is the inevitable reunion, but wait - there’s still an hour to go! To fill the gap we need a few more setbacks so Naomi goes missing and then the two found boys get lost too. Can the whole clan be reunited? Of course, but it may take some time…
I didn’t really fancy this film on hearing about it, thinking it’d be a TV movie of the week exploiting a natural disaster for a mawkish human interest story. In truth it was, but it was better than I’d expected. Definite heroes Ewan (The Ghost) and Naomi (The International) do well in what is clearly a bill paying exercise for them.
The plot is basic and linear with few surprises and lots of false starts. Several times we get ‘Oh no he’s just missed him’ moments as the characters’ paths almost cross without them seeing their nearest and dearest.
The highlight is definitely the special effects with the tsunami realised in cracking detail with the scale and magnitude of the disaster plain to see. The budget is wisely invested here with savings made on the script and Naomi’s make up, which sees her looking like an extra from ‘Dawn of the Dead’ towards the end.
At two hours every emotional possibility is wrung for all it’s worth, but the outcome is never in doubt. There is some jarring product placements “Zurich insurance have arranged a flight home and top class medical care”! but overall it’s enjoyable true life drama, albeit drama wrung through the Hollywood cookie cutter.
THE Tag line : Wave the Oscars good bye! 64%