The Quake review: In 2014, I wandered into a screening at that year’s LFF and caught a film which quite literally blew my mind. That film was The Wave, a little seen (outside its homeland) disaster film made on a shoestring budget (comparing it to similar Hollywood fare – a reported $4 million), but caused a tidal wave in its native Norway and sent its director to Hollywood (helmer Roar Uthaug would go on to direct this year’s Tomb Raider reboot). Three years on comes a direct sequel featuring some of the main cast, though this time replacing Uthaug with John Andreas Andersen in the director’s chair.
Set ‘three years on from the [first] incident’, The Quake centers upon the main protagonist from the first film, Kristoffer Joner’s geologist Kristian, the hero who saved his close family and countless others from the destructive tsunami in The Wave, but a man who is clearly still feeling the effects of the aftermath, and perhaps his inability to have rescued the dozens of people who still remain missing, presumed dead. After a promising start, we wander into familiar sequel territory when a news report catches Kristian’s eye, one featuring the death of two people in one of Oslo’s tunnels, notorious for accident that occur there.
Kristian’s initial, personal investigation leads to evidence that a massive earthquake could be on the way, and goes to a former colleague to report his findings. They, naturally, largely ignore him, but Kristian’s unrelenting refusal to give in, stemming from his own personal trauma, leads him to the centre of Oslo and to his estranged family, where more findings lead to the fact that an even bigger shock could be heading for the city. Which is absolutely the case, obviously.
I deeply enjoyed Roar Uthaug’s thrilling original, a visually spectacular assault on the senses with deep, rich, very well written and performed characters that the viewer invests in from the off. The sequel definitely benefits the those who have seen the first film, even though this one really does take its time to flesh out proceedings – it’s over an hour until we even get to the ‘quake of the title.
The visual effects, though there are fewer this time around, as well as the production design are top notch, and worth the entry price alone, as too are the intense action sequels in the second half – some set pieces so intense, they’re almost Spielberg-ian. There is even one – involving glass – which is almost certainly a tip of the hat to the master himself.
While it’s an gripping watch, the film is a little front-heavy, focussing too much on the lead up, rather than the event itself. The film’s choice of using the same characters is certainly different, but the fact that they were used added a sense of sheer unbelieveability to a film obviously pacing itself to make everything else so plausible.
I was actually left wanting more, and was truly surprised when the ending came. It felt so premature. That said, the 100 minutes or so whip by, so there won’t be too many people disappointed come the closing credits. We look forward to the inevitable conclusion to the trilogy. Anyone got any thoughts?
The Quake review by Paul Heath, October 2018.
The Quake was reviewed at the 2018 BFI London Film Festival.