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Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2019
You have to wonder how these movies go under the radars, and you can miss them. The performances by all is superb, the plot keeps you interested every single second. It does have some loose ends that are left to the imagination but is extremely well done, so I presume that the unexplained is part of the story and ads to the plot pointing to a great fabulous place, beyond human imagination. For the few minutes the vision of that world lasted, like agent Sevier I also asked "can I go with you".
Interesting film, I read another review that said it felt like it began in the middle and it did, the story is well underway and though the audience gets what it needs to at first to know the general action and all the blanks are pretty much filled in as the story progresses, it was unusual and a bit misleading (but not necessarily in a bad way). The movie certainly made me think one thing at first and then subverted that as I got more information.
One of those films that to review is to spoil, I went into the film knowing very little at all other than a vague cross-country chase situation involving aliens or someone with superpowers or both. Since I think if you are reading this review you have likely already read or will read other reviews, here are a few more not really too spoilerific bits.
The movie focuses on a father, son, and a close friend of the father though others enter the story later on. The father is Roy Tomlin (played by Michael Shannon), fleeing a cult in Texas (called the Ranch) to take his son…somewhere, to a place and for reasons we find out as the movie progresses, but are definitely cultish and not normal and possibly apocalyptic. The son is 8-year-old Alton Meyer (raised as the cult leader Pastor Calvin Meyer’s own son, though Roy is his biological father), Alton played by Jaeden Martell, has super powers, somethings things that are difficult to understand at first and are (mostly, kinda) explained later on, but often manifesting as blue beams of light shining from his eyes. Accompanying the two on a cross country trip out of Texas is Roy’s childhood friend Lucas (played by Joel Edgerton, Lucas is a Texas state trooper), dodging police thanks to an Amber Alert, armed parishioners hunting them, and with the police the federal government, including NSA communications analyst Paul Sevier (played by Adam Driver), who is very interested because encrypted satellite transmissions have made their way into the cult’s sermons apparently via Alton and he is very, very interested in Why and How.
The movie is a chase basically, with the FBI and Sevier trying to figure out where the three are going and why and the three dealing with all manner of issues, including the real possibility that Alton is dying and at the same time a danger to those around them.
Not really a movie heavy on action though it is there (including a short gun fight and a much longer one later and an extensive high speed chase scene later as well), the movie builds up a lot about why Alton has powers, where he has to be and why, and the various obstacles he faces getting there. I liked the sense of mystery of what he was capable of, what he was, that was the heart of the movie.
I don’t think we got into the character’s heads enough though. We can see Roy is a dedicated father who believes his son when he says he has to be at a certain place and at a certain time, but beyond that we don’t ever learn much about him, why he was in the cult, the Ranch, why he believed his son so much when he was raised as the cult leader’s own, we just see dedication. Lucas we know even less well; a very competent, very trusted, very dedicated friend, but why the dedication? As the story progresses, Lucas has to know he will end up in prison, but did he think it mattered if this was a precursor to the apocalypse? Or did he just owe Roy that much loyalty? Sevier was interesting but underused. It would have been neat to show him studying Alton behind the scenes, figure out What He Was, or How He Did Things, but we really didn’t get that. He figured out where they were going, but it was such a perfunctory scene, not played for a gee whiz sense of wonder, it felt too understated. Sevier works with an FBI agent and I thought he would be of equal importance but he soon falls off the movie’s radar.
Certainly by no means a bad movie, I liked the cast, the effects, good pacing, but it just felt a little underdeveloped.
Very dull with poor story line. Occasional incoherent dialogue due to actors mumbling. Plot builds so SLOWLY up to a "big reveal".....which amounts to next to nothing. No dramatic tension or identification with characters. Plot is a total mess. No real ending. Need I say more. Recommend renting or buying something better.
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2020
It's a drama, not an action movie, so don't be surprised. I think a few of the low star reviews expected MIB or Mission Impossible. Not knocking action/adventure movies, those can be really good, but this is more nuanced acting and more subtle performances (which were all excellent BTW). Ended something like I would have expected, but not entirely. I'd rewatch it again, and it'd be good even watching it a second time soon. It ended with a few unanswered questions (especially the very last scene) but that's fine. I also liked that there wasn't unneeded dramatic tension between characters just to artificially stir up a plot. No one was at odds who it didn't make sense to be.
It was good but one of those movies where I either need to watch it again to see if I missed small clues or if it was intentional. It's one of those movies that a day after you've seen it, you start to fully understand the film... or parts of it, I don't want to be specific as it will give the film away, but I wonder if I'm not the only one who felt this way. I felt like it starts in the middle of a story and you have to fill in the blanks to the who's doing what part in the movie. By the end, you have an idea but I still feel like I need to watch it again. I'm still confused why/how the government knew to look for the child in the beginning of the film, as he wasn't reported kid napped. Stuff like that. I love sci-fi- so I can't be too hard on films like these... even with the confusion of who has what part in the movie, the mystery of the little boy's "talents" keeps you intrigued as to what the heck is going to happen with him.
This film has quickly made it to my top 10 list. Fast paced with a plot that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.it has a stellar cast. The performances were strong and believable. Especially Michael Shannon. I've really never seen a bad performance from him. I think the ending is open to interpretation, which may not be satisfying for everyone. However it doesn't take away from the greatness of the work as a whole.
The only thing about the ending that I really wish I could ask the filmmaker about, is the scene with Michael Shannon watching the sunrise. You briefly see a blue light in his eyes like Alton's. Is the father from the other world? That would explain how the boy was born on earth. I wish it hadn't ended without more answers, but I still enjoyed it immensely.
This was an okay film! are you ever in a mood where you really want to watch something kind of specific? Well that's what happened and I chose to watch "Midnight Special." Part sci-fi, part action, part chase, part religious, part speculation... it's filled the bill for what I wanted for that Saturday afternoon. It's not the greatest of films, but it held my interest for the entire movie and that's a good thing!
We are deep in X Files territory in this tale of men protecting a child (formerly Bruce Willis's role), but the spooky-dooky bit takes a back seat to the personal issues. Why are these two men protecting the child? Why does the FBI investigator begin to go rogue? And why are the Sectarians so keen to break their own rules? The film shows you an obvious route - and then switches tracks. The obvious "bad guys" the Sectarians are not played as deranged loons (though still dangerous). Michael Shannon (as number one protector) may look like a dangerous nutter (and certainly is dangerous ) but that's not his main role. Though I enjoyed the journey a lot of viewers may find the film lacked an end in which they could invest, perhaps no end could have complementing the beginning and middle of this film , I especially recommend the satellite crash.
5.0 out of 5 starsBrilliant. An unusual but original film.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 8, 2020
What an unusual but original film. Several film genres in one but brilliantly done. Partially SiFi, road movie, right of passage and mystery with a bit of religeous cult escapees thrown in for good measure. All in all a fabulous production, tight script with shock moments and revelations. A good look at alternative higher life forms overseeing mankind. This is a worthy film with fabulous acting. Child protégé is hunted by cult group due to extraordinary capabilities but removed by natural parents, now on the run to predetermined destination signaled by the child. But others searching for the child become aware of where that is...
5.0 out of 5 starsGood for content and entertainment value.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 4, 2019
I saw this late night on TV recently - I must admit I have never heard of it before - and so was quite intrigued by it. I have brought this for my son who missed it both in the cinema and on TV but while it's not a 'blockbuster' it keeps you on the edge of your seat at times plus the wondering what is going on or about to happen. 5 Stars for content and entertainment value.
As good as Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst are, this felt a lot more like a TV movie than a full feature. Interesting story that unfortunately has been done before, the road movie will never go away. Not a fan of Adam Driver at all so his performance grated a little. One thing that annoyed me a lot was a silly mistake made by one character towards the end which this character would not have made. The last scene was clever though and well acted.