Amazing effects and stunt along with and solid performances balance out some artistic lapses and ethical questions
in this true story of one family’s experiences of the horrendous Tsunami that killed 300,000.
The downsides; there’s something a little off-putting about choosing a white, privileged family as a focus, while at the
same time showing almost exclusively other white people as suffering and afraid in a disaster that killed far more local
people than tourists. The Thai’s are certainly shown in a good light, kindly helping all these suffering whites, but even
in the hospital, almost every face we see in a bed is a white one. That hint of odd racial insensitivity is also underlined
by replacing the original family, who were Spanish and dark, and making them into a gorgeous blond English family, a
telling choice in a ‘true’ story.
On a more general level, the film can feel manipulative, from the tear jerking score, to the multiple “will they spot each other?”
shots that feel like a horror film’s self-conscious suspense creating frames, but that technique feels strangely artificial in this
more naturalistic setting. There’s no question it’s exciting and at times moving, but it felt to me like one of those films I
would have felt even more deeply if it wasn’t pushing so hard to win my emotions.