Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 3.5
CINEMA rating: PG 13
MTRCB rating: PG 13
The impossible is a drama set during the 2004 tsunami, detailing one family's incredible fight for survival. Following an eventful Christmas day at a beach resort in Thailand, Henry (Ewan McGregor), his wife Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) and Thomas (Samuel Joslin) are enjoying their tropical poolside holiday when one of the worst natural disasters in modern history changes their lives in the blink of an eye—the tsunami that rocked the world. With no time to run for safety, Henry and his family, just like the dozens of other horrified tourists on the resort, lose one another as they are washed away by the 90-foot wave. As the devoted parents fight all odds to find and protect their children, they encounter scenes of heart-wrenching tragedy and experience acts of incredible compassion amidst the chaos.
The actors did a marvelous job—you have to see it to feel their sincerity. The depiction of the horrendous event is flat out stunning. The impossible’s technical perfection leaves the audience no room to nit pick about flaws—or to try to guess which is actual footage and which is CGI—as it rips right into the viewers’ emotion and carries them away to rush along with the bodies getting slammed on trees, electric posts, broken masonry and other debris. Witnessing on film and empathizing with the victims’ suffering is a moving and unnamable experience for us who have never been through a tidal wave. So this is what a tsunami does… Bodies battered by the merciless waters, scores of cadavers, live victims covered in blood and filth, the anguish of the suddenly orphaned … could the victims be blamed if they were never to believe in God again?
Through it all shines the power of the human spirit not only to overcome but more so to put the welfare of others before one’s own. Complete strangers weep shamelessly and comfort one another in their grief. Having heard a child crying beneath the debris, Maria, herself badly cut, bruised and almost breathless tells Lucas to rescue the child. Lucas at first refuses lest another wave tear them apart again, but Maria insists “We must… even if it’s the last thing we do…” In the hospital, Maria, bandaged and strapped to an oxygen tank, tells Lucas to go help others in any way he can instead of just sitting by her bed. Such instances winess to the undying human spirit and fortify the central self-sacrificial theme of this true story. Himself going through the angst of yearly adolescence, Lucas absorbs the impact of this vital lesson about life, giving, and sacrifice.
So this is what a tsunami does… When your life hangs by a thread, you just stop caring about gifts, careers, travel plans—you come to see what really matters in life: life itself, family, compassion. Try and imagine what you would do when all the things you so enjoy in life are claimed in a split second by an unfeeling tidal wave, when your whole family is grabbed away by a watery hand that’s bigger than your prayers. What would you do?