Midnight Special

"Excellent"

Midnight Special Review


Gifted director Jeff Nichols takes on another genre in his fourth film with actor Michael Shannon, after Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud. This one's an involving character-based sci-fi adventure made in the style of classic films like E.T. or Close Encounters. As the characters are thrown into an extraordinary situation, the story gradually reveals its fantastical secrets without resorting to the usual overblown blockbuster formula, which makes the movie remarkably resonant and genuinely thrilling.

Shannon plays Roy, a man who is on the run across Texas with his 8-year-old son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) and his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton), who's now a state trooper. And the FBI is on their trail, investigating the religious cult they escaped from. Led by the defiant Calvin (Sam Shepard), the cult seems to have been centred around the unusual ability Alton has to gather information from government satellites. Which is why the FBI is so intent on tracking him down. Working with the FBI, NSA Agent Sevier (Adam Driver) is fascinated by Alton's abilities, and he begins to worry what might happen if the boy is captured. Meanwhile, Roy and Lucas have reunited with Alton's mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) and are continuing their journey across the American South. And time is clearly of the essence, since Alton is growing seriously ill.

Writer-director Nichols skilfully keeps the audience gripped by the central mystery, dropping in hints and revelations along the way that slowly build up to the final big picture. This forces the viewer into the same perspective as the characters, who don't have a clue what's going on but are gripped by the possibilities of what they're witnessing. This also makes it impossible to predict where the story might go next as it cycles through action, humour, emotion and exhilarating drama. Through all of this, the actors all offer beautiful textures in their characters, underplaying even the most intense scenes to make them feel strikingly realistic.

Lieberher anchors the cast with a remarkably magnetic performance that raises the emotional stakes. Shannon and Edgerton are terrific as men just trying to do whatever they can to save him. And Dunst and Driver add remarkable layers to sensitive characters whose inner journeys are deeply powerful. As these people travel along the road to whatever is calling them forward, the film is thrilling and wrenching, surging through moments that are suspenseful and wondrous. At its heart, this is an absorbing movie about how there's much more to the world than we can possibly understand, starting with the unbreakable bond between a parent and a child.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Midnight Special:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th March 2016

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Tri-State Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jeff Nichols

Producer: , Brian Kavanaugh-Jones

Starring: as Roy, as Sarah, as Lucas, as Agent Sevier, as Elden, Scott Haze as Levi, Jaeden Lieberher as Alton, as Calvin Meyer, Dana Gourrier as Sharon Davison, as Fredrick, as Agent Miller, Kerry Cahill as Agent Linda, as Doak, Billy Slaughter as Agent Cole, Lucy Faust as Caroline

Also starring:

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