The Impossible (2012) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

  • A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them?

  • A British family on Christmas holiday at a beach resort in Thailand is torn apart when a deadly tsunami devastates the area. The film follows the seriously wounded Maria and her eldest son Lucas as they struggle to safety, not knowing whether Maria's husband and their two younger sons are dead or alive.

  • Christmas Eve 2004. The Japan residing Brits, the Bennetts - husband and wife Henry and Maria, and their three sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon - have just arrived at the Orchid Beach Resort in Khao Lak, Thailand, for their Christmas vacation. They are all at the resort's pool area - Henry with the two youngest in the pool, while Maria and Lucas are off doing other things on their own - when, without warning, a massive tsunami hits. In the tsunami's aftermath which results in a landscape full of carnage and destruction, the surviving family members, some with serious injuries, are separated from each other. The first priority for each is to find at least one other family member so that he/she is not alone in dealing with the uncertainty of the situation. Once he/she is able to do so, they have to decide if finding the other family members, not knowing if they are dead or alive, should still remain the only priority, especially as some things become better known and as other things are still unknown, such as if another tsunami will hit which makes heading to higher ground a sound move for one's own safety. Along the way, each person will have to decide whether to help others, and conversely if others are willing to help them, most of who are facing the same situation of being injured and requiring medical assistance and/or are looking for missing loved ones, not knowing if they are dead or alive.

  • Inspired by actual events, The Impossible finds Henry (Ewan McGregor), his wife Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three sons lounging poolside at a scenic Thailand resort following an eventful Christmas. But just as the family begins to forget their troubles and settle in for a relaxing tropical getaway, one of the worst natural disasters in modern history changes their lives in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, as shock gives way to abject horror, the devoted parents fight to protect their children, encountering scenes of heart-wrenching tragedy and experiencing acts of incredible compassion as the entire country is engulfed in chaos.

  • The British holidaymakers--Henry, Maria, and their three boys--begin their Christmas vacation at a serene seaside resort in exotic Thailand's Khao Lak. However, when a series of towering tidal waves hit the area on Boxing Day claiming the lives of more than 200,000 people, the unsuspecting tourists will find themselves violently separated. Now, as the death toll rises rapidly in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the heavily injured mother must summon up the courage to stay alive with her elder son, while, at the same time, a desperate father and his two young kids must do everything in their power to track them down. Amid suffering, tangled debris, and death, the brave survivors must get the nerve up not to lose hope, and pray that the impossible becomes possible. Will they survive the apocalyptic catastrophe?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts), her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Tomas and Simon are on holiday over Christmas at a tropical paradise resort in Khao Lak, Thailand. However, the devastating 2004 tsunami, which occurred on 26 December 2004, destroys the coastal zone, and they are swept up in the flood - a flood which captures Maria searching for a lost page of a book against a glass window while the rest of the family is near the pool.

    Maria and Lucas are separated from the others and Maria's leg is badly injured. At Maria's insistence, they rescue a small boy called Daniel who has also been separated from his family. The three climb a tree in case a new wave approaches. They are found by locals and taken to a hospital - Maria on a door used as a stretcher. Maria, who is a doctor, is concerned about her leg, and asks Lucas to tell her if it turns black. She encourages Lucas to see if he can provide any help to the others. Lucas takes names from patients and searches for their relatives. When he returns to Maria's bed she is not there, and due to a mix-up, the hospital staff believes she has died and take Lucas to a tent where other children without families are being held; a phone call can be made, but Lucas does not remember the number of his grandpa. Maria has surgery on her torn chest and is later reunited with Lucas.

    Elsewhere Henry, Tomas, and Simon are together and safe. Henry asks Tomas to look after his little brother then places the children into a vehicle full of tourists who are being taken to a safe place in the mountains, while he keeps searching for Maria and Lucas. Later, Henry arrives in the mountains and finds Tomas and Simon have been sent elsewhere. Communication facilities are scarce, but another man, German tourist Karl, allows Henry to make a phone call to his father-in-law Brian in the UK. Henry uses the phone only to break down in the midst of the call. Maria and Lucas have not contacted the family, so Henry doesn't know they have survived. Karl then volunteers to accompany Henry to look for his wife and son.

    Henry and Karl search for their missing families in various shelters and hospitals before they arrive at the hospital where Maria and Lucas are. Unbeknownst to all, the entire family is miraculously in the same place. Henry walks past Maria's ward, and she appears to recognize his shadow against the curtain of her ward, but is too weak to call out. Lucas spots his father (recognizing his shorts and bloody legs) in the distance, but immediately loses sight of him, and gives chase. Simon recognizes Lucas's voice when he shouts for his father. Tomas and Simon leap off a truck transporting lost children just in time to reunite with Lucas, and at the same moment Henry stumbles across all three of his sons and Lucas tells him their mother is in the hospital.

    They find Maria, who appears to be on the verge of death and needs immediate surgery. She survives the surgery, and the following day a representative of their insurance company arrives to fly them to a hospital in Singapore in a small plane. Lucas tells Maria that the boy they rescued, Daniel, has been reunited with his father. As they take off, Maria is shown viewing the devastation of the tsunami from the plane window, and she begins to weep.

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