Great original sci-fi films are always a joy to come across, from Ex Machina and Edge of Tomorrow in the last few years, to the current film, Midnight Special. It tells the story of a father fleeing with his child fleeing from both a religious cult, and the government led by Adam Driver’s Paul Sevier. We soon learn that the child, Alton, has some kind of special powers, which is the reason that they are running.
Midnight Special is a low budget sci-fi film, and therefore tends away from being completely action driven. Instead we are given a more thoughtful film. The film raises a lot of questions early on and doesn’t just spoon-feed you answers but makes you think and engage with the film. This is helped by the film’s slow build, taking its time to get to know the characters and build up their relationships.
All the performances are stellar, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver all bringing a high standard. However it is young Jaeden Lieberher as Alton who stands out, showing a great range and displaying an assured and confident performance, even surrounded by such a talented array of actors.
This is Jeff Nichols first ever foray into a genre film, and it clearly owes a huge debt to Spielberg, especially something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, although nowhere near the same level. So if you like this more thoughtful kind of sci-fi then you will probably find Midnight Special to be a good, if slightly unspectacular, film. But it you are only interested in the more action driven film then this isn’t the film for you.