Tom Holland is now famous the world over thanks to periodically appearing as Peter Parker in the MCU, but his talent was evident years previously after his performance in disaster movie The Impossible, which after being added to Netflix on November 1st has spent nearly the entire month on the platform’s Top 10 chart.
The film is based on real events, specifically the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that killed well over 200,000 people in several countries in Southeast Asia. Set in Khao Lak, a coastal region of Thailand and the area hit the hardest by the natural disaster, the story follows a holidaying family who all survive but become separated. While his mother is hospitalized, Lucas (Holland) helps reunite people as his father searches for his loved ones in the flattened rubble of the holiday resort. The Spider-Man star, who was 14 at the time of filming, gives a heartbreaking performance as a boy trying to hold it together in the face of an experience that nobody should have to endure, never mind someone so young.
Although many of the characters are foreign tourists, specific nationalities are never brought up to better emphasize that in such a situation if no other, national affiliation is irrelevant in the face of people coming together simply as human beings, relying on the kindness of strangers to carry on, and repaying that help when encountering someone else in need. The movie’s current popularity may well be down it being more than a little relatable right now for many who feel helpless in the face of an unstoppable force of nature that rips families apart and leaves devastation in its wake, but find solace in the film’s message of hope.
Actors’ big successes, especially ones in huge commercial hits, have a tendency to overshadow their earlier achievements. And while Tom Holland will forever be known for his exploits as one of the definitive big screen versions of Spider-Man (not to mention the greatest ever Lip Synch Battle act), his performance of maturity and compassion in The Impossible at a tender age marked him as a talent to watch, and the world is now a slightly better place because of it.