The Impossible written by Sergio G. Sánchez and María Belón, directed by J.A. Bayona (Apaches Entertainment, Telecinco Cinema, Mediaset España, PG-13, 114 min)

Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland.

Fatalist at Heart

My wife calls me a fatalist. I can’t help it, but whenever I board a plane, relax at the beach, or cruise the speed limit on the open road, my mind does not wander far from the potential disasters in our midst. Perhaps credit the rise of technology and the way video depicts every possible outcome in our lives. But no matter the source, I can’t keep my mind away from these terrors.

Now, my quality of life is fine. I can still enjoy spending time with others. And it’s not like these thoughts force me into some security bunker to remain safe. In my mind, I am able to recognize the risks of life without losing my joie de vivre.

Nevertheless, a movie like The Impossible serves as another reminder for me that disaster is an ever-present reality lurking on the outside realm of possibilities.

Tsunami Strike

The Impossible, based on the true story of María Belón, depicts a vacationing family enjoying Christmas in Thailand, only to have their lives ripped apart by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Maria (Naomi Watts) and her husband, Henry (Ewan McGregor) are enjoying the pool with their three children, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) when they hear a roar in the distance.

Before reflexes and instinct force muscles to flee, the family is enveloped in the onrushing water of the tsunami.

Immediately, the fight for survival is on. Swept away from her husband and youngest sons, Maria emerges from the deluge to the screams of Lucas. As the water pushes them inland, Maria swims to Lucas. After the immediate threat recedes, Maria and Lucas climb a tree and take inventory on their wounds. It quickly becomes clear that Maria needs medical attention.

The duo ventures inland seeking the help of locals to find the nearest hospital.

As the story unfolds, we see what it means to fight for survival and to continue to hold to faith that all might be redeemed in spite of such a horrifying event.

Visceral Horror

While viewing The Impossible, horror became my immediate reaction. Director Sergio Sánchez craftily exhibits the visceral nature of human suffering in the wake of a natural disaster. The tsunami scenes, while visually stunning, are brutal, disgusting, and downright scary.

Naomi Watts excels in her portrayal of a brittle-yet-emotionally-strong mother, doing everything in her power to stay alive for a son she believes is all she has left.

Ultimately, The Impossible, is a simple story. There’s not much time spent developing characters before disaster strikes, and the people we come to know in the wake of the tsunami are dead-set on survival.

The story amazes in its unlikelihood, but it also does a decent job of putting faces to the thousands of people suffering through one of the worst disasters in human history. So many people were lost on that day and we ought to try our best to remember them and to work toward minimizing the effects of the next disaster.

The Impossible will ultimately become another image in my Rolodex of disasters running through my head while I’m enjoying time at the beach. But it can’t stop there. I owe it to myself and those I love to be prepared as best as possible, while I experience the best life has to offer.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

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