Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 3, 2013
    100
    Perilous incidents have riveted audiences since Pauline was tied to the railroad tracks, but in the hundred-year history of cinema, few thrillers have been as emotionally compelling as The Impossible.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 19, 2012
    100
    Here is a searing film of human tragedy.
  3. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 12, 2012
    100
    Put a staggering accomplishment called The Impossible, from Spanish director J. A. Bayona, at the top of the season's must-see list.
  4. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Sep 12, 2012
    100
    The Impossible is one of the most emotionally realistic disaster movies in recent memory -- and certainly one of the most frightening in its epic re-creation of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
  5. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 12, 2012
    100
    Wrenchingly acted, deftly manipulated and terrifyingly well made.
  6. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jan 3, 2013
    91
    An extraordinarily gut-wrenching, intense story of survival against all odds.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 20, 2012
    90
    Yet it's not just the visuals that make the movie what it is, a thrilling, if also punishing, tale of heroic endurance. The Impossible, based on a true story, derives most of its impressive power from two remarkable performances: Naomi Watts as Maria, and Tom Holland as Lucas.
  8. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Dec 20, 2012
    90
    The Impossible is technologically a marvel - the tsunami experience is harrowingly believable - but also emotionally rich. I hesitate to use this term, since it is so often equated with hokey, but The Impossible is life-affirming.
  9. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 4, 2013
    88
    Yet as fine as she and Ewan McGregor are as the parents, Tom Holland stands out as eldest son Lucas, a slightly sullen teen who learns to put other people before himself.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 3, 2013
    88
    This is a tale not only of epic disaster but also of resilience. The Impossible is a nimbly acted drama that is at once a stellar visual achievement and a life-affirming story of familial love and courage.
  11. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 20, 2012
    88
    Watts is extraordinary - she manages both the physical and emotional demands of the role, with soul-deep conviction.
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 18, 2012
    88
    The go-for-broke intensity and emotional layering Watts brings to her role is an acting triumph. And McGregor matches her in a performance of ferocity and feeling.
  13. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Dec 19, 2012
    83
    Like "The Orphanage," The Impossible confirms that Bayona is a major talent, with a skill for constructing sequences that build tension as masterfully as Steven Spielberg did in his '70s heyday.
  14. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Dec 12, 2012
    83
    It's agony, in a rewarding way, to squirm and cringe and groan through an ordeal so realistically re-created.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 4, 2013
    80
    This is an affecting and emotional drama about the strength of the human spirit.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jan 3, 2013
    80
    Both here and in "The Orphanage," Bayona reveals himself as a masterful genre stylist of almost unlimited talent and a storyteller addicted to sentimental happy endings that feel a bit sardonic. Like, it's all OK now – but just wait till next time!
  17. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Dec 31, 2012
    80
    You can take issue with its overly Anglicised approach to an international tragedy, but there's no denying that this rousing, superbly acted, no-holds-barred melodrama is a mighty feat of physical filmmaking.
  18. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 21, 2012
    80
    Bayona achieves a rare sense of balance between the big and the powerful as well as the small and the intimate in the family's survival against impossible odds, no doubt the inspiration for the title.
  19. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 20, 2012
    80
    The most memorable turn, however, comes from young Holland. There is not a moment in which Lucas' fear, or unexpected courage, feels less than real.
  20. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Dec 11, 2012
    80
    Marshalling formidable technique and force of feeling, Bayona's tale of courage and empathy in the face of catastrophe fulfils his debut's promise, its harrowing conviction hammered home even harder by the spot-on casting.
  21. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Sep 12, 2012
    80
    Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy.
  22. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jan 4, 2013
    78
    First, to dispel the two talking points attending The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona's dramatization of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami: No, it's not racist, and no, you don't have to be a parent to feel the film in your bones.
  23. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    Anything following that spectacular sequence is bound to be something of a letdown - especially when it ends up playing like standard-issue Hollywood melodrama.
  24. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    The film is studded with many tiny, lovely moments.
  25. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    If one person survives and 6 million are killed, or one person gets out and 3,000 are crushed, it's not really a happy ending - or even an adequate representation of the larger event. This is precisely the challenge that The Impossible faces and never quite overcomes.
  26. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    Everything that was false about the tsunami sequence in the recent Clint Eastwood film 'Hereafter' - the bland overview perspectives, the lack of human immediacy - is corrected, terrifyingly, by the first half-hour of director J.A. Bayona's nerve-shredding docudrama 'The Impossible.'
  27. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 12, 2012
    75
    The film's adult leads, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, give powerful, natural performances.
  28. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Sep 12, 2012
    75
    The Impossible looks back at a natural calamity with unflinching honesty. It sees fear and pain, it sees fortitude and bravery, but mainly it sees this: In that raging instant when the sea becomes its own monster, there's precious little to separate the devoured from the spared – nothing but the thin wedge of luck.
  29. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 20, 2012
    70
    One of those movies that's good, but leaves you with the nagging feeling that it could have been better.
  30. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 12, 2012
    67
    It suffers from the greater problem of emphasizing a feel-good plot within the context of mass destruction.
  31. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Dec 20, 2012
    65
    Starring flying debris and surging walls of water, The Impossible takes the template of the old-timey disaster movie, strips it to the bone and pumps what's left up to 11.
  32. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Dec 6, 2012
    65
    The latter half of The Impossible is so disappointingly movie-ish, tying a bow on the events after portraying them too vividly to allow them to be wrapped so neatly. It wrings out tears with an industrious efficiency that leaves you feeling manhandled after the exhilarating, terrifying footage that's unfolded before.
  33. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 4, 2013
    63
    Bayona is restrained here in terms of gore, but his landscape is a realistic vision of a hell we never hope to visit.
  34. Reviewed by: Mark Keizer
    Dec 13, 2012
    60
    The key selling point is Bayona's ten-minute reenactment of the tidal wave and its carnage, which is brutal, visceral and without peer. His visual mastery is almost enough to make up for The Impossible's conventional final hour and the empty feeling of trying to find the point of this whole exercise.
  35. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 24, 2013
    50
    Movies are good at this sort of brute physicality, but the trouble with The Impossible is that is also tells a rather banal story. [28 Jan. 2012, p.81]
  36. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 3, 2013
    50
    An earnest, extremely grueling, prodigiously crafted true-life drama that takes one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history and reduces it to a bad day at Club Med.
  37. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Dec 23, 2012
    50
    I'm not sure any other actress today could have pulled this off without seeming cheap or manipulative. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the movie itself, which often traffics in the manipulative.
  38. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 20, 2012
    50
    There is a troubling complacency and a lack of compassion in The Impossible, which is less an examination of mass destruction than the tale of a spoiled holiday.
  39. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Dec 18, 2012
    50
    These horrors, and the absorbing performances of Watts and McGregor, will soon be undermined by a surfeit of sentiment.
  40. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Dec 18, 2012
    40
    When it comes to human emotions, however, the filmmaker is all thumbs, crassly fumbling for audience response via clichéd uses of dropped-out sound and the occasional twinkling piano.
  41. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Dec 23, 2012
    33
    The Impossible strikes an insincere tone, one that doesn't let the obviously powerful moments stand on their own, but instead follows the beautiful Hollywood stars to safety, while the real story is left on the ground.
  42. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Nov 22, 2012
    12
    A sham realist's disaster movie, tackily insulting the deaths of 300,000 people by reducing the horrors of the Indian Ocean tsunami to a series of genre titillations.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 249 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 61 out of 71
  2. Negative: 5 out of 71
  1. Jan 6, 2013
    10
    Best movie i have ever seen. It's has a lot of heart touching moment that can make you cry . it's was so real that can make you believe in that movie
  2. Dec 21, 2012
    10
    The best Spanish film of the history of cinema.
  3. Dec 23, 2012
    9
    "The Impossible'' is a true story very intense story of family's survival against the odds.worth checking out for the acting and effects ,and is not a remake movie. Full Review »