Movie Review: The Impossible

The Impossible (2012)
114 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland


Grade: A-

In 2004, a tsunami hit the coast of Southern Asia, devastating everything in its path and killing over 230,000 people. The Impossible is movie based on a true story about a family who overcame the disaster and miraculously was able to hold each other once again. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), the narrative is a straight-forward and personal one, which is certainly refreshing since there have been plenty of high-budget, CGI-driven disaster films in the past few years. Bayona wisely holds back on the disaster and concentrates on the family.

Even though CGI didn’t play a major role, the special effects and visuals were devastating. Using one of the largest water tanks in the world to create the powerful waves, you can’t help but cringe and inch to the edge of your seat as Maria (Watts) and Lucas (Holland) fight to grab each others’ hand while being swept away by the current. It’s great entertainment, but one that’s difficult to watch if you think of how many people were killed by these monstrous waves.

The Impossible is a story about a family who never gives up hope under the most catastrophic circumstances. Maria and Lucas are separated from Henry (McGregor) and the two youngest sons. While Maria was fighting to stay alive in one of the many crowded, makeshift hospitals, Henry never stopped looking for the rest of his family. While the climax of the film was done in a close-call, seen-it-before way, you can’t help but to be moved by the conclusion.

Naomi Watts gives a very strong performance as the wounded mother with a big heart, clinging to her life for just one more moment to be reunited with her family. Ewan McGregor also gives a great performance and had the most emotional scene as he borrows a stranger’s phone to call a family member. But the actor I was most impressed with was Tom Holland. He arguably has more screen-time than any of the main characters and really holds his own as the oldest son. Holland is no stranger to acting (starring in Billy Elliott the Musical in London), but the movie works so well because of his performance. We see the chaos through his eyes for a big part of the film and he has the unique perspective of being as strong as he can be for his family while still being too young to understand everything that surrounds him.

This is a very good film with great performances. Even though the film doesn’t touch upon all the lives lost directly, you understand the magnitude of the situation through several scenes of panic and the remains from the tsunami. But through the worst moments, it’s nice to know that there is always hope and The Impossible proves that is true.


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