One of my favorite disaster dramas is leaving Netflix this month — and it’s based on a true story

Tom Holland and Naomi Watts in The Impossible
(Image credit: Netflix)

Most disaster movies are unrealistic and somewhat corny, right? I love them, of course, but it does means it’s hard to come by disaster dramas that actually stay with you after you’ve watched them. Throwing on movies like “San Andreas”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, and “Into the Storm” are great for entertainment value, but they will never hit the same as this one emotionally resonant thriller.

The movie I have in mind is “The Impossible”, and it so happens to be one of the best disaster dramas ever. I remember watching it for the first time with my mouth hanging open, shocked at how incredibly gripping it was. When you hear “disaster movie” you often think of buildings collapsing, big monsters traversing through cities, explosions, and even a global apocalypse, but that’s not what “The Impossible” is about. In fact, I wouldn’t even label it as a disaster movie. A completely raw survival drama with some elements of a thriller seems to fit it best. 

Currently “The Impossible” is available on Netflix, but it won’t be for much longer. This movie will leave the streaming platform at the end of May, so if you haven’t watched it already, don’t miss out. And if you’ve seen it before, there’s no harm in experiencing it again.  

It's based on a real destructive event

“The Impossible” follows a close family on a winter vacation to Thailand. One day after Christmas, an unimaginable nightmare occurs when a tsunami destroys the area and leaves destruction in its path. Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) must do everything to protect their children and find their way back to each other after being separated by the initial wave. Other cast members include Tom Holland as Henry, Samuel Joslin as Thomas, and Oaklee Pendergast as Simon: Maria and Henry’s three young sons. 

During their journey through the black water and seeking help, the family encounters unexpected acts of kindness and courage that slowly shrink their fear. It’s about sticking together in the darkest hour. 

This movie is actually based on the true events of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. María Belón and her family did indeed go through the disaster that devastated Thailand. Any type of disaster movie that follows a true story is bound to be powerful, and “The Impossible” captures this family's bond perfectly while focusing on the chaos that ensued. I believe that this movie also represents the good side of humanity and how we as humans can care so deeply about helping strangers.

It’s safe to say that critics also agree with just how powerful this movie is. The score on Rotten Tomatoes is 82% with the audience score at 84%. Shubhra Gupta from The Indian Express said: “The Impossible shows us devastation, yes, unbelievable havoc, yes, horrific human loss, yes. But also, exemplary courage and love and compassion, all done with freshness and feeling.”

And another review by St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Williams that captures my thoughts perfectly is: “In the hundred-year history of cinema, few thrillers have been as emotionally compelling as "The Impossible."

Prepare to think about this movie for days

Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Trust me when I say that “The Impossible” won’t leave your brain for a few days. The raw emotion and incredible acting will make you believe that you’re watching a disaster in real time. Not to mention that you’ll be on the edge of your seat hooked on every moment, from the tsunami’s first appearance to the hardships Maria has to go through to get her son to safety. 

It’s not often that a movie stays with me, but “The Impossible” still lives in my head rent-free. The feeling I got in my gut when watching it for the first time is something only a few select movies can provoke. So, if you’re big into disaster dramas or just want to shed a few tears, then add “The Impossible” to your list before it leaves Netflix this month. 

You can also check out my most anticipated disaster movie of 2024 or explore some of the best Netflix shows to stream right now

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Alix Blackburn
Staff Writer, Streaming

Alix is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, which basically means watching the best movies and TV shows and then writing about them. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Screen Rant and Bough Digital, both of which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing about the latest movies and TV shows, she’s either playing horror video games on her PC or working on her first novel.