Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts), her husband, Henry (Ewan McGregor), and their three children, Lucas, Thomas, and Simon fly to the Orchard Beach Resort in Khao Lak, Thailand, for a Christmas vacation. Warning signs occurred on their flight about the trouble ahead, but none saw the signals.
On Boxing day, the tsunami struck, and the family became separated in the swirling waters. Maria and Lucas find each other quickly, and eventually Henry and the two younger boys are reunited. Henry searches desperately for his wife and other son, and they all come together at a hospital for survivors where Maria is waiting for a life-saving operation for injuries she suffered in the tsunami.
The real impact of the movie lies in its technical sophistication. The work of the Production Design, Set Decoration, and Art Direction teams is outstanding, especially the visual-effects production team which has reproduced the effects of Nature's wrath so well. The havoc and chaos caused by the tsunami are reproduced in amazing detail.
The tsunami was created with a mixture of digital effects, and water surges in an especially built tank in Spain, and extra realism was provided by the use of actual survivors of the tsunami. With the excellent camera and design work, one never doubts for a moment that the actors in the movie didn't experience the disaster. The film is photographed and designed superbly, and the integration of the actors with their environment is convincing.
Palpable emotion builds up as the movie progresses, and the film is one that is both moving and compassionate. - Peter Sheehan, Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, and Oaklee Pendergast. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. Rated M (Mature themes, injury detail, brief nudity and infrequent coarse language). 114 min.