324 user 371 critic

The Impossible (2012)

Lo imposible (original title)
PG-13 | | Drama, Thriller | 4 January 2013 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.



, (story)
1,420 ( 221)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 27 wins & 65 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.

Director: Mark Herman
Stars: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend
The Orphanage (2007)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Director: J.A. Bayona
Stars: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents.

Director: Brian Percival
Stars: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
The Call II (2013)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

When a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl's life.

Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: Halle Berry, Evie Thompson, Abigail Breslin
Flightplan (2005)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane.

Director: Robert Schwentke
Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean
Flight I (2012)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle
Changeling (2008)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Rafael, a Sevillian who has never left Andalucia, decides to leave his homeland to follow Amaia, a Basque girl unlike other women whom he has ever known.

Director: Emilio Martínez Lázaro
Stars: Clara Lago, Dani Rovira, Carmen Machi
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Life of Pi (2012)
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
King Kong (2005)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.

Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion.

Director: Asger Leth
Stars: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jomjaoi Sae-Limh ...
Johan Sundberg ...
Jan Roland Sundberg ...
La-Orng Thongruang ...
Old Thai Man
Tor Klathaley ...
Young Thai Man
Douglas Johansson ...
Mr. Benstrom


A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them? Written by Ronaldo Ferreira

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




| |

Release Date:

4 January 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Impossible  »

Box Office


$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$143,818 (USA) (21 December 2012)


$18,996,755 (USA) (12 April 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Quique Alvarez, his wife Maria Belon and their three young children were swept away by a massive wall of water as they lounged around the pool at the Orchid Resort Hotel in Thailand in 2004. See more »


When Daniel meets with his father, he says in Swedish - "vad tung du är Johan (how heavy you are, Johan)" instead of the character's name Daniel. This is because the real name of the character Daniel, is Johan, and it's his real father Jan. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: On December 26th, 2004,the deadliest tsunami on record hit the South East Coast of Asia. The lives of countless families all over the world changed forever. This is the true story of one of those families.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title and the rest of the credits do not appear until the end of the film. The only credits that appear at the beginning are the production companies' logos and an explanation of how the Tsunami came about. See more »


Referenced in Maltin on Movies: Awards Special 2013 (2013) See more »


Composed and Performed by For Fiesta
Voice by Lluís Segura (as Lluís Segura)
Guitar by Marc Prades
Solo Guitar by Marc Gómez del Moral
Bass by David Gallart
Drums by Bernat Vilaplana
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A terrible event ... but a moving film
12 September 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews


The 2004 tsunami was one of the deadliest natural disasters on record. Because it occurred in the Christmas season and hit many resort area beaches its death toll of almost 250,000 was indiscriminate, taking not only South Asians but many visiting vacationers. People everywhere were affected by it. My own relatives who were then living in Thailand were destined that day to be on the beach, but, unknown to the rest of us, illness caused them to alter their plans. I personally heard from Thai acquaintances the story of nieces and nephews who excitedly ran to the shore to see the wondrous phenomenon of the receding ocean, only to be swamped by its return. Weeks later, flying over the Indonesian coastline, I could see with my own eyes just how far inland the wave had rushed, and the devastation it had wrought.

How do you frame such a catastrophe in human terms, and present a situation of pure chaos in a way that makes a compelling story? How do you tell such a tale in a way that respects both the lost and the survivors, many of whom suffered personal tragedies as well, and more of whom bore the guilt of survival? How does one story tell some of the many stories of that day? These were among the challenges that faced director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez when they decided to put an account of the 2004 tsunami on the screen. Their solution was to deal with one British family on vacation in Thailand from Japan, but their film uses that family as a catalyst to show the tsunami's awful effect not only on the tourist population but on the local people who suffered even more.

Both the film itself and the filmmakers have taken pains to say that this is a "true story," and they have aimed for the greatest possible authenticity in the circumstances. They have based themselves on detailed interviews with the family members and with other survivors, some of whom actually appear in the film. (For example, those who tell their tales to Ewan McGregor at the bus station are almost all actual survivors.) While footage of the tsunami strike itself was shot in a water tank at Alicante on the Spanish coast, and a couple of days filming of interiors took place in Spanish studios, the remainder of this picture was shot on location in Thailand using the real places of the story, such as the Orchid Beach Hotel in Phang Nga, and the actual hospital where much of the action occurs.

The actual Thai locations and the many Thai actors keep the production values superb, and give this film an authenticity it would not otherwise have. So of course do the survivors who take part, whose emotions are sometimes all too real. Many video shots exist of the tsunami hitting the Asian beaches, but no one who was not there can have any real idea of what it must have been like to have been caught up by its waters. Bayona has chosen to focus not so much on the massive power of the tidal wave itself but on the sheer terror and disorientation it must have created for those submerged in it, and upon the human toll it took. But his scenes of its striking are horrific enough to give some sense of its magnitude, even on the screen. Nor does he pull his punches in some of the grisly scenes that follow. The impressive results that display both the striking wave and its terrible aftermath owe much to production designer Eugenio Caballero.

The big names here are Ewan MacGregor as Henry and Naomi Watts as Maria, his doctor wife, while Geraldine Chaplin has a cameo role as a lady who comforts one of their sons on a starlit night. MacGregor and Watts seem to suit their parts, but in a sense they are playing predictable roles. They become a couple literally torn apart, a father having to search among the debris for the remainder of his family and a mother who for much of the picture hovers close to death. The family's three sons are played by Tom Holland (Lucas), Samuel Joslin (Thomas) and Oaklee Pendergast (Simon). The two younger boys are cute as well as being effective, but that is not really a word that suits Tom Holland. The young British actor displays a surprising maturity and delivers a wonderfully measured performance, reminiscent of a younger Daniel Radcliffe. Despite the bigger names involved, it is his portrayal of Lucas that carries the picture since he is the hub around whom events revolve as the individual stories unfold. That is a lot to ask of a young actor, but Holland delivers.

No one story can ever do justice to the events of that day and the days that followed. Nor can a story set in just one location ever capture just how wide-ranging were the tsunami's effects. How can you tell the story of what happened almost simultaneously in Indonesia and India, Myanmar and Malaysia, and eventually affected even the African coast. Thankfully, Bayona doesn't try. He focuses on the few, hoping that through them audiences will better understand the tale of the many. For such a story, The Impossible is perhaps a more than fitting title, but the film works and gives a view that is both visually impressive and dramatically moving.

The Impossible premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2012. It will open in Spain on October 11, and go into general release in North America in the last week of December.

Ray Lahey

218 of 276 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The Empty Plane afn16755
The kid ruined this movie with his awful acting ryan_crummack
Am I the only person totally unmoved by this movie? DarlingDaintyfoot
What parts made you the most emotional? aries_angel_4590
One of the best movies I've ever seen. Tri-State_Skater
How did they not KNOW the Tsunami was coming? ellison33
Discuss The Impossible (2012) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: