You’ll want to catch “The Wave” because it’s fun to see Hollywood disaster movie cliches rendered in Norwegian.
It’s got a Jeremiah, warning the locals that The End is Nigh, the end in this case being a tsunami in their tiny fjord-side tourist town. He sees the signs — crevice’s shifting, birds abandoning their roosts.
You’ve got the doubters shouting “You need to calm down!” and “We can’t cry ‘Wolf!’ every time we suspect something up here!” The fools.
There’s his hotel clerk wife (Ane Dahl Torp) working right at sea level, their teen son blithely skateboarding with headphones, unaware of the sirens.
Life is snatched from the jaws of death, and vice versa.
Good stuff, tried and true and formulaic, but benefiting from great effects and a classic ticking clock narrative.
Norway’s first movie in this genre has a prologue, news clips of how rock slides in fjords have killed many in the past. Norway’s seismic network of mountain watchers features Kristian (Kristoffer Joner), ready to leave cozy Geiranger for the big city and a job with an oil company.
But his last day on the job — his LAST DAY — he sees those signs, he shouts his warnings on the phone. He dashes through town, rounding up his family in his 1999 Cherokee, because even in Norway, there is Only One Jeep.
But will he be too late?
Terrific moment number one — the siren sounds at night, and all over the Norwegian mountainsides, lights pop on. Moment number two — Kristian stops to help a stranger and is forced to ride out the coming tidal wave in her car. Water plunges over them, the chaos beneath the surface is full of horrors.
It’s all standard-issue stuff, but rendered in realistic and compelling strokes by director Roar Uthaug. With a name like that, you know the wave itself is going to be a doozy.
Yes, we’ve seen all this before, often with an all-star cast and always with a “Hollywood Ending.”
But the tropes and cliches of these movies show up time and again for one reason. With or without subtitles, they work.
MPAA Rating: R for some language and disaster images
Running time: 1:45