Since picking up the mantle of Spider-Man in 2016, Tom Holland's career has taken off in unforeseen ways. In addition to his growing popularity as Spider-Man, Holland has begun collaborating with a number of big stars in both live and animated roles.
Holland has proved himself as a versatile talent across his multitude of roles. He has done voice work for Spies in Disguise, Onward, Dolittle, and early in his career, Locke. His animated work has shown he is skilled at developing accents and The Devil All the Time is a further testament. As Spider-Man, he has proved himself capable of delivering high action sequences and Cherry proved he can handle emotionally complex roles. Holland's big-screen debut in 2012's The Impossible, previewed these skills and solidified that Holland would become a big star.
The Impossible relays the true story of the Belón family, who found themselves caught in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while on vacation in Thailand. It is a dramatic, inspiring, and woeful tale of what the natural disaster meant for not only this family but for Thailand natives. Giving viewers a short glimpse of life before the tsunami, during the tsunami, and the aftermath, The Impossible is an emotionally raw story that requires its cast to pull off some of the best performances of their careers.
Holland stars alongside Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast to play the three children of the focal family. It features Ewan McGregor as the father and Naomi Watts as the mother. Watts' performance in The Impossible earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in 2013. Watts lost this award to Jennifer Lawrence for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.
At the time The Impossible was filmed, Holland was only 14. The emotional range required by this role is difficult for adults to wrap their minds around, let alone a young teen. On-screen, Holland shares most of his time with Watts, which demains a high-level performance. With The Impossible being Holland's film debut, the pressure of doing justice by the story, the emotional pull of the story, challenging water sequences, and the presence of both Watts and McGregor would be enough to spook anyone. Despite the added pressure, Holland delivers a gut-wrenching performance.
Prior to the tsunami, the family is shown lounging by the pool, enjoying one another's company. The oldest of the three children, Lucas (Holland), is repeatedly spotted with a red ball throughout the film's intro. When the ball bounces outside of the pool, Lucas goes to fetch it. This happens to be the same moment the tsunami begins to sweep across the land, taking everything it touches along with it. The Impossible then has a powerful image of Lucas holding the red ball while staring down the tsunami.
As he gets swept up by the water, Lucas struggles to keep himself alive. Encountering the debris floating within it, he is battered to an incredibly painful point. With the water never ceasing its attack, he struggles to come up for air. The Impossible does an eerily good job of pulling the audience into the natural disaster. Watching the various members of the family and several others fighting for their lives, has the audience holding their breath right alongside them.
When the water settles, Lucas embarks on the journey to find the surviving members of his family. The Impossible takes its time revealing the fates of each member of the family, but Maria (Watts) and Lucas are shown battling the tsunami when it first hits, allowing their fates to be revealed early on. As Lucas wanders the battered land, he takes in the unfortunate reality of what has transpired. Holland's performance is heartbreaking and raw as he begins to process what fate may have taken hold of his family.
Throughout The Impossible's runtime, Holland's pleas and cries lodge themselves into the hearts of viewers. It's impossible not to experience the emotions alongside the family as they work through the devastation that has taken place. In addition to the family's journey, the toll the disaster takes on Thailand natives is as equally gut-wrenching. The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred on December 26, 2004, and resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people. Its high death toll and lives that were forever altered, make The Impossible an incredibly difficult film to digest at many points. The knowledge that the film is telling the true story of one family's journey makes it that much more unbelievable and harder to turn away.
With all the elements required by this performance, it is arguably one of the best of Holland's young career. Pulling it off in such an elegant and professional manner at such a young age attests to his capability in the industry. While this role came four years before he made his debut in the MCU, The Impossible is certainly proof that Holland is a talented force that will continue to deliver quality performances even after his time as Spider-Man comes to an end.
The Impossible is now streaming on Netflix.