Whenever a film opens by describing itself as ‘based on a true story’, (placing an emphasis on the words true story)then it’s easy to fear for something unconvincing. The Impossible lives up to the worst of those fears with a sappy and lazily written tale of a family’s survival during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents of three sons on a Christmas holiday in Thailand. The disaster strikes early on in the film, leaving plenty of time for the family to be torn apart along with a fair share of cheesy, unconvincing moments of reconciliation. The film works well during the initial disaster sequences, before it cascades into a hollow emotional struggle which relies too much on corny dialogue and the superficial sight of kids being brave.
At one point McGregor’s character decides to leave his 5 and 8 year old sons on their own as they venture into the Thai mountains so that he can aimlessly, pointlessly search for other loved ones. We’re meant to see how desperate he is to not lose his wife and elder son yet at no point do you believe this character would ever leave his surviving boys behind. The film consistently fails to get its sentiment across. It’s a movie littered with corny writing but not even in a warm, ‘feel good’ way – The Impossible is mainly just bad because the writing is so emotionally disengaging. It’s a predictable bore which surely doesn’t do the real story justice.
Review by David Rank
The Impossible is out now in the UK and US. Certificate 12A (UK). Running time 114 mins.