Midnight Special (2016)
Written and directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher
A father (Shannon) and son (Lieberher) are on the run. In pursuit is a fanatic cult and numerous government agencies. The cult believes that the boy holds the key to salvation, and the government believes that he’s a tool of destruction.
This film was written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Mud). The cast includes his frequent collaborator, Michael Shannon (Man of Steel). The film also stars Joel Edgerton (Warrior), Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides), Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens), and Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent).
This film is a unique blend of conspiracy, fantasy, action, and science fiction. Jeff Nichols wrote an ambitious script that picks up with the characters mid-flight. This means that the story truly hits the ground running, leaving a number of unanswered questions from the very start. Throughout the film many new questions are asked, but not all of them are answered. The relationship between a man and his son is the glue that holds this together despite the lack of solid conclusions. The strength of that connection really adds something special to the story. This doesn’t entirely make up for some of the holes and missing pieces, but it goes a long way. While this isn’t perfect, it’s still a very good story.
The acting in this is very good. Michael Shannon does a good job leading this one with his somewhat subdued performance. His quiet intensity really brings out the sense of mystery surrounding the boy. He also carries a strong paternal sensibility that connects him with Lieberher perfectly. Joel Edgerton also does a good job in this film. His role needed a sense of wonder within it, and he delivered nicely. Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver also add something good to this one. Along with the rest of the stars, their roles needed a sense of honesty to make the story work. Finally, young Jaeden Lieberher was a great choice for the role of the young boy. He never seemed to overact his part, and he really connected with the all-adult cast around him.
The visuals and sound in this movie all work nicely. Cinematographer Adam Stone (Compliance) did a great job capturing the story. He was able to work with the crew to make the most of the contrast between light and dark throughout the film. The action scenes were also handled nicely. The editing and other visual aspects of the film all come together nicely in this one. The sound work is also good. David Wingo (The Sitter) did a nice job crafting a score that seemed to connect to the tone of the story from the very beginning.
This is a good movie that won’t appeal to everyone since it doesn’t seek to tie a bow around the ending. The choice to leave unanswered questions was a tough one, but I think it paid off. If you’re a fan of Jeff Nichols you should check this one out. I would also suggest this to fans of the stars. I give this one 3.7 out of 5 stars.