Review by Sean Boelman
Every country has a specific genre of film that they do disproportionately better than their peers, and Norway’s niche is disaster movies. As expected, John Andreas Andersen’s The Burning Sea is quite competent, but it’s far more boring than any movie about an oil rig explosion should be.
The movie tells the story of a group of researchers as they investigate an oil rig that is going down on the Norwegian coast, only to realize that the situation is much more dire than they ever could have imagined. While the basic premise seems pretty exciting, the approach is a bit too stately for it to work.
Part of the issue with the film is that it doesn’t really establish its stakes very well. And given that the outcome threatened by these circumstances is environmental catastrophe, that’s an issue. Apart from some expositional dialogue that puts the situation in context of real-life ecological disasters, there’s not as much urgency as there should have been.
Additionally, it is frustrating that the movie doesn’t go all-in on its commentary. There are some interesting ideas about the things that cause this type of disaster to occur, from greed to government incompetence, but they are never fully-developed into a compelling through-line. It’s more just a nagging voice at the back of the film’s conscience.
The character development in the movie is also very shallow. The script really banks on the audience getting invested in the romance at the core of the film, but it’s about as basic as they come. Obviously, there is the basic level of sympathy that audiences would have for anyone in such a terrible disaster, but it’s missing the deeper connection that it would have needed to resonate.
The cast of the movie isn’t bad, but the roles also aren’t meaty enough to give them much to do. Kristine Kujath Thorp and Henrik Bjelland have some solid chemistry together when they share the screen, but when they are alone, neither is all that impressive. The supporting cast isn’t all that great either.
Like a lot of Norwegian disaster movies, this is very heavy on the CGI, and it looks really good. But good visuals only go so far when there’s not enough excitement to go along with it. The action scenes are shot in a way that is spectacle-driven, but the effects aren’t all that cinematic or unique.
There is no denying that The Burning Sea looks good, but that alone is not enough to recommend it. The script is the issue, as everything about the writing is so generic to the point of being boring.
The Burning Sea is now available on VOD.