★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
The Wave bends time and film genres, and it is bound to bend viewers’ minds, too, as its protagonist goes on a drug-fueled journey of self-discovery.
Directed by Gille Klabin
The Wave is a genre-jumping film rooted in science fiction that bounces between thriller, comedy, drama, and other elements — including a surreal staff meeting with horror touches — with an infectious energy. At its heart, though, it is a warm, well-acted look at how our personal decisions affect others including total strangers and, indeed, ourselves — a sort of hyperspeed, candy-colored version of topics explored in the original The Twilight Zone television series, such as universal order and social justice.
Justin Long (Tusk; Jeepers Creepers) plays Frank, a corporate lawyer who knows that to be promoted at his job, he needs to screw over others. He is on the eve of a meeting that could mean such a promotion, thanks to his finding a loophole that would mean denying a woman and her children a sizeable insurance claim after her husband dies. His work buddy Jeff (Donald Faison of Skyline) invites him out for an evening on the town to celebrate, which Frank initially declines but later takes him up on after an evening of discussing finances with his wife.
The two friends start the evening at a bar, where they meet Natalie (Katia Winter of Banshee Chapter and Sleepy Hollow) and Theresa (Sheila Vand of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night). The foursome moves to a party at the home of one of Natalie’s acquaintances, where Frank and Theresa wind up taking an unknown drug given to them by a charismatic, if dodgy, stranger (Tommy Flanagan of Alien vs. Predator and the 2006 version of When a Stranger Calls as Aeolus).
What happens next is a wild, frantic ride as the effects of the titular drug send Frank on a danger-filled journey through time as he encounters a gun-toting drug dealer (Ronnie Gene Blevins of Tone-Deaf), tries to solve the disappearance of Theresa, and suddenly finds himself in places that could cost him his job, marriage, or the life of his friends and acquaintances, or find him in jail.
Gille Klabin, working from a screenplay by Carl W. Lucas, has a superb eye for visuals, and The Wave boasts a wide array of gorgeous shots and set pieces, and some imaginative visual effects. Klabin also shows a knack for balancing the many different elements at play in the film, as the many twists and turns the film takes are wrapped up into a cohesive package once all is said and done.
Epic Pictures will release The Wave in theaters and on VOD in the United States on January 17th.