The Impossible


“The Impossible” is based on the true story of one family’s experience during the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Over 230,000 people lost their lives.

This film will place you squarely in the center of that event.

“The Impossible” briefly but successfully establishes the loving, happy family on vacation by showing a bit of their flight in to Thailand and their arrival at the luxurious ocean-side resort they’re staying at. A husband (Ewan McGregor), wife (Naomi Watts) and three boys (the eldest played by Tom Holland) are on a vacation for Christmas. They spend a joyful Christmas Day opening presents and playing, and that night they enjoy a beautiful beachside celebration, releasing candle-kites into the night sky.

Their idyllic peace is not long-lived, however. The very next day, while the family is poolside, the tsunami strikes.

The actual tsunami scene is as terrifying and realistic a disaster re-creation as you could imagine. The family has a few seconds to see the massive wall of water coming at them before it smashes through everything in sight and washes some of them miles inland. As the wave hits, the family is separated and the story focuses in on the eldest son and the mother, who are swept along not far apart from each other. Aside from the very real danger of drowning, or being washed out to sea, the two risk being slammed into objects or protrusions and being fatally gouged or knocked unconscious. A second wave tosses them about. During it all, they frantically try to stay together, each of them giving up the possibility of safety alone at some point, in order to pursue the other, still in danger.

Back at the resort, unbeknownst to them, the husband and other two boys have also survived. Once the immediate danger has passed, the story shifts back to them, and to his efforts to find his wife and eldest son. He’s left with nothing, and has no idea where they might be, but he doggedly refuses to give up hope.

Aside from the personal struggle of this individual family, this movie imparts a feeling of the scope of the tragedy. Obviously, the real event was of such a massive scale that no film could adequately impart it, but “The Impossible” makes a valiant effort. Wreckage and desolation stretch as far as the eye can see. The hospitals are teeming with people and stretched beyond their resources. Every time one of the family members mentions they’re searching for a loved one, multiple people plead with them to be on the look-out for those that they’ve lost as well. Humanity is reduced to the basics. Life becomes about simply surviving and finding the people you love.

“The Impossible” is one of the most emotionally draining films that I can recall. Most “tear-jerkers” (not to call “The Impossible” a tear-jerker, mind you) will set you up for one or two big moments of sorrow and then try to hit you with the big cry. “The Impossible” exists in a continuous zone of shock and fear, with sudden bursts of sorrow and equally sudden bursts of great, joyous elation and/or relief. You’ll feel the family’s pain as they get bettered by the event, and then the fear that they experience afterwards not knowing if everyone survived (or will still survive). When you’re not experiencing their plight, the film is showing the scope of the event, and you’re witnessing the plight of others. There are easily 30-40 moments here that could justifiably cause people to weep, and the audience I watched the film with was indeed sniffling throughout.

Watts and McGregor both were astonishing. McGregor’s character is doing his damndest to be resolute and courageous, but he’s faced with insurmountable odds and extremely difficult decisions. It’s too much for him at points, and he occasionally loses it. Watts takes the worst of the damage from the wave, and while she starts out a protective, driven mother… her strength fades along the course of the movie and her battle for life continues once she survives the water. Her performance is utterly genuine, you can feel her fear and love for her child, and then feel for her as her strength slowly slips away. Together, the two of them perfectly communicate the emotional experience that one might undergo in such a traumatic event.

“The Impossible” is one of the most powerful, moving, intense films of the year. It wowed me with its horrifying special effects, stunned me with its scope, and had me on the verge of tears from beginning to end. I highly recommend that you see it in theatres to get the maximum impact, and I’d also recommend seeing it with family. You will undeniably feel lucky to have them safe and sound with you after viewing this incredible film.


Daniel Fogarty


55 thoughts on “The Impossible

    • I didn’t think so at all (romanticized it). I thought it was brutal.

      I was stunned by how powerful it was, honestly. Completely took me off guard. 😮

      Check it out if you get a chance Aidy, I think you’ll appreciate it.

      • Really quite powerful and pretty wrenching. I can see why you have Naomi Watts in your FMR Best Actress nominees. Hell of a job, as well, on the director’s part to pull this one off since it’s based on a real tragedy and not have it seem like he’s making box office at the expense of a disaster. Fine review, Fogs.

      • Thanks Big Cat. Glad to see someone else got to experience this film and got the same things out of it that I got. It was a powerful, moving experience. They definitely DONT seem as if they’re taking advantage of the tragedy, either. Not for a moment. Excellent point…

        Thanks for sharing, man, nice to hear.

  1. This will end up on my amended Best Of 2012 list. This was an extremely powerful film. I believe Watts should get a nomination as well as the special effects crew. Definitely deserved the 10 rating I gave it.

  2. A++? Is this the highest or is there A+++ there too?:P I’ll probably see this soon, I could have done so today but I really don’t feel like crying 🙂

  3. Sup Fogs!?

    My review is posting tomorrow, but it sounds like you and I saw this exactly the same way. I was completely blown away by the visuals, the sounds, the story and especially the performances. I found myself crying 10 minutes into the movie.

    There’s not doubt that this belongs near the top of my top 10 for 2012, and that it deserves to get some recognition come awards time.

    Great, great review Fogs.

    • Boom, is what I usually like to say in such situations. LOL

      Yeah, as far as I’m concerned, this one is a lock for my top ten, I’d expect it to earn several awards noms, etc… personally, I have a hard time envisioning knocking it.

      People are though, it’s only at like 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I’ve run across a couple of reviewers who are down on it but… I’m just baffled how they could miss out on it.

      Glad you didn’t! I’ll try’n stop by and check out what you have to say!

  4. “Emotionally draining” indeed, but I completely agree with you that it is one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in years. I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to theaters to see it again because of how heavy it is, but I was incredibly impressed with the acting and the direction time and time again. Glad to see it hit home for you too 🙂

    • Oh. I’m with you on that. In terms of rewatchability? Uh. I dont know that its completely 0, but it certainly wont be one I watch often.

      Its one of those powerful films that you watch once and then recall forever, but you dont necessarily want to go through it again. “The Pianist”, “Hotel Rwanda”, “Grave of the Fireflies” (LOL), not that this is as devestating as those, but it’s kind of in that same vein for me…

  5. Wow! You giving it an A++ means that I definitely should go check it out! I was intrigued by all the trailers and interviews, etc that I had seen around. It only goes on this coming Friday for us so I’ll find some time to head out and see it next weekend 🙂

    • Cool. You should, Kim, it’s great. It’s a very frightening, powerful film. I kept grabbing the armrest and making “Ouch” sounds and stuff, and I never do that. LOL. So, I was really into this…

      Let me know what you think of it if you get a chance!!


    • Hell of a week right there.

      I’m not as high on Les Mis as you, but a lot of people really love it and if you’re in that camp, you must have really had an awesome week at the theatre! I loved Lincoln, too.

  7. Very good review! The movie sounds very intense, which is great! I really need to see this one. Great review!

    • Thanks Meera, yeah, I recommend this one to people highly.

      It absolutely was very intense. It only takes a few minutes to set things up and then the next thing you know you’ll be on the edge of your seat for a couple of hours!

  8. Indonesia was one of the countries affected by this terrible tsunami, so this one would be real tough to watch for me. Glad you find the film affecting Fogs, I think you’re right that this would make us not take things for granted!

    • I heard that some of the survivors who live in Britain actually filed a lawsuit over the trailers because it inflicted painful memories. No kidding.

      Now, I dont know if I support all of that or anything, but it is refelctive of how tough it might be to watch for people.

      They deflinitely dont pull punches, either. 😮

  9. Great review man, I really liked this one too. Some of the scenes were really powerful and were like being hit in the stomach. I thought it lost its way a little at times in the second half but was still great. I wonder if it’ll get any Oscar nods or not, there’s definite potential there.

    • I agree. I could see it getting some serious recognition, and I hope it does. I dont know if it will for sure or not of course, but I really hope it does.

      And yeah, I was hissing and tensing up and stuff early on during the tsunami scene… it wasn’ easy to watch!

    • Yes, very easily. Its longer and more intense… plus, it has a personal focus. As you watch it… they’re showing you the impact its having on A person (well, two people). So you can watch what it would be like to be in the thing… which was terrifying. 😮

  10. Can I be forgiven for wondering more than once if Watts and McGregor were a couple? Back before I had Internet, that is. Seriously, they’re in soooo many movies together!!!

    And for such a sad film, it’s interesting that you liked it so much. Not my type of movie, but I’m glad to hear that both actors did their roles justice. I would expect no less from Obi Wan.

    (I have a cold, so all my funnies are drained, sorry. The day will be spent rewatching the Hobbit, Dredd, and eating popcorn whilst delaying the ordering of this semester’s books).

    • There you gooooo… put off that schoolwork! I approve! 😀

      They sure as hell seemed like a beleivable couple here onscreen Livi, I’ll say that. They were both great, and I fully expect an Oscar nom for one or both of them.

      I wouldnt normally be all about the sad movie either, but this was just so good. Its pretty much impossible to deny how excellent it was (to me at least, apparently there are people out there doing it)

  11. Damn. I was a little skeptical about this one, but it sounds like I need to see it before it leaves theaters. Good stuff, Fogs, you’ve got me really curious about this now.

  12. Pingback: The Impossible Review: An Assault on you Tear Ducts | Rorschach Reviews

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