When you think of Tom Holland now, you think of the man who brought Spider-Man to the MCU. He has won over millions of fans as Peter Parker but, before his time in the superhero spotlight, he starred in one of the most emotionally devastating movies ever made: 2012’s The Impossible.
Holland was just 14 when he filmed the movie, which is now soaring up the Netflix charts. We’re in tears just thinking about it. In The Impossible, director JA Bayona told the harrowing true story of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. It’s a very tough watch, but it’s also among the best movies of Bayona’s career. And given how much we love The Orphanage, that’s saying something.
The Impossible appeared in the Netflix Top 10 for US subscribers in November, sandwiched between the horror sequel Insidious 5 – check out our Insidious 5 review for more – and the Sylvester Stallone documentary Sly. That would be a very unusual triple bill, and we wouldn’t recommend it.
The Impossible follows a family who are on holiday in Thailand when disaster strikes. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents, with Holland as the oldest of three sons. Watts and Holland spend the majority of the film together, having been separated from the rest of the family by the tsunami.
It’s one of the best movies based on a true story we’ve ever seen, with Bayona and his cast tugging at every possible heartstring. I certainly remember leaving my screening emotionally exhausted having cried for two hours straight, with a very soggy shoulder as a result of my wife doing the same.
There was some controversy around the time of the movie’s release, with some criticism aimed at the decision to use British actors when it was a Spanish family whose story inspired the movie. But real-life survivor Simon Jenkins wrote in The Guardian that the film was “beautifully accurate” and a “sensitive retelling” of what happened, regardless of the specific story of the family.
Holland’s performance is nothing short of remarkable, both from a physical perspective – as with all of the best disaster movies, there are some enormous stunts – and in the raw emotional truth of his work. The same combination of maturity and youthful energy that makes him such a brilliant Peter Parker was already present way back in 2012.
Speaking of Spidey, find out everything we know about Holland’s return for the Spider-Man 4 release date. We’ve also told you all about the cutest Spider-Man variant and revealed why Spider-Man 2 is still our favorite superhero movie.