The Burning Sea
The Burning Sea comes hot off the heels of a minor flurry of successful Norwegian disaster flicks in 2015’s The Wave and 2018’s The Quake. Having earned his genre stripes helming The Quake, John Andreas Anderson finds himself trudging through the motions in The Burning Sea, the result being a competently constructed exercise in genre formula that never comes to life.
The strangely unaffecting action revolves around marine robotics operator Sofia (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and her partner, Stian (Henrik Bjelland), both of whom get swept up in an unfolding natural disaster that threatens the safety of Norway’s oil rigs. In a rapid, somewhat uncoordinated attempt to evacuate the country’s oil workers to safety, Stian becomes trapped in the bowels of the rig on which he works. In keeping with the genre’s natural propensity towards melodrama, Sofia makes it her duty to save him, while industry tycoons and government ministers opt for extreme measures in the prevention of a catastrophic oil spill.
What is notable in the midst of all the disaster movie trappings (including special effects and a suitably preposterous narrative) is the complete lack of punch in these elements. After an intriguing early underwater sequence that teeters on the precipice of horror, its sting mellows into something far more predictable and, unfortunately, dull, with any potential thrill subsequently buckling under the weight of formulaic devices. The film’s environmentalist pretences come off as half-baked to boot.
While The Burning Sea is by no means a disaster, it may perversely have benefitted from being so. It does, however, achieve the impressive feat of making the choice between burning alive and drowning appear miraculously free of jeopardy. While a lack of character depth or development can – and should – be forgiven in such films, this is somewhat harder to overlook.
The Burning Sea is released on Amazon Prime Video on 30th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Burning Sea here: