The Wave review – A Norwegian natural disaster that unleashes the power of Mother Nature

I’m fortunate to have visited over 30 countries in my thirty-something years. One of my favourite countries to visit is Norway, and a large part of that is its incredible natural beauty.

In The Wave (original title Bølgen) we experience the sometimes cataclysmic repercussions of the Earth’s ever-moving landscape. Inspired by real life events – and events that have yet to pass – the action takes place in the Norwegian tourist village of Geiranger, which is situated at the mouth of a fjord and at the foot of the mountain Åkerneset.

As is true for its real life counterpart, in the film Geiranger is in a constant state of threat: if Åkerneset were to collapse it would could cause a tsunami that could destroy the village. For this reason, a geology team is on permanent surveillance, monitoring Geiranger for any changes through various sensors.

Kristoffer Joner’s Kristian is a renowned geologist whose last day with the Geiranger team, before moving to work for an oil company in Stavanger, coincides with strange activity that is being reported from the mountain.

Kristian’s boss naturally doesn’t want to cause unnecessary panic, but sadly it is inevitable as the readings continue to indicate that danger is on its way. As sirens that have been installed start to wail to warn residents that a landslide is about to occur, the town has just 10 minutes to evacuate.

What follows are intense scenes where we see the landslide and resulting tsunami’s devastating effects from a number of perspectives: Kristian’s, as he races to evacuate with his young daughter; Idun, his wife, portrayed by Ane Dahl Torp, who is on duty as a hotel manager where their son is also staying; and lastly the geology team.

A large reason why I’ve rated The Wave so highly is its simplicity. The premise is easy to understand, the action takes place in one location (Geiranger and the surrounding areas) and there aren’t multiple names and characters that we need to remember. In that respect I’m reminded of another natural disaster film, 1997’s Dante’s Peak.

It’s visually impressive too, combining CGI effects with the beautiful Norwegian landscape. There’s a particular atmospheric scene when we see the aftermath of the tsunami, the multiple colours in the objects and buildings usually seen in the town replaced by varying shades of grey and pockets of red from small fires burning.

The cast all deliver strong performances, especially leading actor Joner, who may be more familiar to audiences through his roles in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) and The Revenant (2009). I appreciate the preparedness and skills that the characters demonstrating – for instance, both Kristian and Idun knew that the sirens were giving a 10-minute warning – as living in Geiranger one would assume that that knowledge is taught early on.


The Wave (2015; Bølgen)

Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp

“Although anticipated, no one is really ready when the mountain pass above the scenic, narrow Norwegian fjord Geiranger collapses and creates an 85-meter high violent tsunami. A geologist is one of those caught in the middle of it.” – IMDb

  • Awarded Best Film, Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects at the Amanda Awards (Norway) 2016
  • Awarded Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, Best Production Design, Best Editing, and Best Producer at the Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival (Norway) 2016
  • Nominated for the Saturn Award for Best International Film 2016
  • Selected as Norway’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards

3 thoughts on “The Wave review – A Norwegian natural disaster that unleashes the power of Mother Nature

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  1. I quite like Nordic films, though I’m not sure about disaster movies, ahah. This one sounds intriguing though (doesn’t sound like a typical big dumb disaster flick a la 2012 or San Andreas), and I do remember Joner from MI: Fallout. He’s only in there briefly but that scene is memorable.

  2. I was really caught out by how good this one was! I went in expecting a pretty B-grade disaster film but it turned into something so wonderfully enthralling – the characters felt real and lived in, the landscape setting was jaw-dropping and the fact that the film stood firmly inside the realms of plausibility only made it that much more powerful when the proverbial poop hit the fan. Great, hugely underrated, movie.

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