Midnight Special (2016): He’s Not Like Us

Posted: June 30, 2016 in Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
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Worshipped by a cult for his supernatural powers, Alton knows little of the outside world. Sheltered and isolated, his father finally realizes that the group has little interest in Alton’s well-being. He connects with a former friend and they escape with his son in the middle of the night, following Alton’s visions. A chase begins to recapture the young boy, but the number of players increases as multiple government agencies begin to pursue the family as well. As they continue to travel across the country, strange occurrences increase in number and intensity, and Alton’s health becomes a serious concern under the stress of their travel and pursuit.

Gritty, Dramatic Performances: Being shot in only 40 days, the story relied on its strong premise and acting talent to rise to the occasion. Michael Shannon, as Alton’s father, maintained a cautious intensity over the well-being and safety of his son. Joel Edgerton, the friend, was a combination of curious, stern, and unflinching as he supported his friend regardless of their prior fallout. Jaeden Lieberher was quite a fine young actor. As the child with the supernatural abilities, he still played a child curious about the world around him. At times, the fear of his own power was palpable. At others, the confidence of his control was even slightly amusing. Besides the main cast, Kirsten Dunst was solid as the supportive mother, Adam Driver played an open and explorative investigator, and Sam Shepard promoted the uncomfortableness of a charismatic cult leader.

Special Powers as Odd as Night and Day: Alton’s special powers were both unpredictable and intense. Some were mostly harmless, particularly his ability to absorb tech waves and intercept radio signals. The scene where he repeated a Spanish feed with the car radio not even tuned into the station highlighted his ability well. Other powers were significantly dangerous. When worried about being tracked or watched by satellites, he discovered he had an ability to take control of their movement and force them to crash as fireballs from above. At least through the beginning of the film, he was hidden from daylight, as there appeared to be a weakness to the sun.

The Chase is On: Though Alton, Roy, and Lucas were driven by Alton’s visions, their pursuers had little interest in allowing them to succeed. The cult where Alton grew up abused his abilities to develop a religion around the messages he intercepted. Seeing him as some sort of messiah, Calvin Meyer sent his men to kidnap the boy and return him to the compound. As for Agent Sevier, he was bound to his duty as a government agent but intrigued by the mystery surrounding the events that followed the trio on the run. He was supportive of their mission but could not allow his coworkers to know the truth.

Final Verdict: While this movie failed to capture a lot of attention, it was truly a gem of the Spring film releases. While there are some fantastical experiences woven throughout the story, it was the character development and mystery of where the adventure would lead that drove the engagement of this film.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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