Review: In the midst of disaster, ‘The Unthinkable’ winningly focuses on relationships

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The title of the Swedish thriller “The Unthinkable” refers to a series of mysterious episodes that paralyze the country. Because armed forces stealthily invade, the internet and the electrical grid move haywire, snarling traffic plus cutting off communication. Individuals are left to fend to get themselves and to fight for their own lives, even though they do not really know what’s taking place.

Written, guided and produced (among additional things) by a five-person group that calls itself Crazy Pictures, “The Unthinkable” functions several breathtaking moments that will illustrate societal collapse: cars and trucks skidding off the roads, the helicopter and a small airline locked in a dogfight within smoke-filled skies, the sight of flaming buildings on the distant horizon and more.

But the movie is not really, first and foremost, a spectacle. For your initial half-hour, it’s the story of a lonely kid named Alex (played by Christoffer Nordenrot, the movie’s cowriter), who trains himself to be a world-class pianist to revenge his emotionally abusive father, Björn (Jesper Barkselius). Alex also pines for his childhood sweetheart, Anna (Lisa Henni), who moved away when they were teenagers.

All these characters are brought back together when the assaults begin. Björn, who functions in a power plant, is one of the first to sense the coming danger. Alex, at the same time, meets Anna again — and his dad — whenever he comes home to deal with their mother’s death.

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After an unusually thorough amount of setup, for most of its 2nd hour, “The Unthinkable” profits on three fronts. The very first involves intense moment-to-moment success, as the chaos around Alex and company intensifies. The 2nd has to do with figuring out the identity of the attackers, something that is only slyly hinted at during a montage of news reports at the end of the film.

These two elements are usually handled conventionally, but nicely. “The Unthinkable” doesn’t appearance or feel like a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s not straight-to-video schlock either.

But what really units the movie apart is the third, most prevalent degree: the story of multiple damaged relationships that find some measure of closure when these involved need each other the majority of. A lot of big action pictures add “a little heart” between the thrills, but “The Unthinkable” reverses the percentage, centering emotions.

Some genre fans may be impatient with this approach in the beginning, but by the end, it really works. This isn’t just a story about a world-ending threat. It’s a tale about a handful of people who don’t want to die before deciding unfinished business.

‘The Unthinkable’

In Swedish with The english language subtitles

Not really rated

Running time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Playing: Available May seven on VOD