Movie Review: Midnight Special (2016)

Posted: December 23, 2016 in Drama
Tags: , ,


A little boy named Alton (Jaeden Liberher) with a supernatural power is kidnapped by his father, Roy (Michael Shannon) and his friend, Lucas. (Joel Edgerton)   Alton inspires a cult that follows him, an F.B.I. agent named Sevier (Adam Driver) is also tailing the trio.  As Roy takes Alton to see his mother, Sarah, (Kirsten Dunst) Alton gets sick, and Lucas advises Roy to take Alton to the hospital.  But Roy believes that Alton needs to go to a pre-ordained location in a 24 hour window, and he will not be deterred.  Do Roy Alton and Lucas make it to the location before Sevier can guess the location?  Does Alton’s illness affect the journey to their destination?

Midnight Special does a good job of keeping the suspense going for a while, it has obvious references the Branch Davidians, and even reminds me a bit of the the Elian Gonzalez case, and there’s one inescapable movie reference, but if I reveal that reference, I will spoil this movie.  But after Alton’s power and identity is revealed, the last half hour just drags. The problem with the identity reveal is that it creates more questions than it answers, and the film doesn’t try to answer those questions.  After all is revealed, here’s nothing left to do, and the movie goes on for another half hour when everything should have been settled.  So the viewer is “treated” to a lot of knowing looks and nods by the actor, and some meaningless special effects, as the movie limps to a finish.

There’s nothing wrong with the acting, the issue is the actors aren’t given a lot to do. Shannon plays the father with the requisite intensity.  Joel Edgerton does a good job balancing loyalties between Roy and Alton.  Kirsten Dunst plays the doting mother well, although one might wonder why she’s playing a mother of a pre-teen boy when she’s only 34.  Adam  Driver is interesting as the sleuth, but he figures things out way too quickly.

The direction is not that great, there are good visuals, but the pacing is horrid, and the running time should have been edited down, but the writer and director are the same person, so the director doesn’t dared edit his own work.  It’s a lot like Take Shelter, a sci-fi movie with a big buildup but little payoff.

The movie is produced by Steve Mnuchin, the name might not ring a bell, but he’s been nominated to be the new treasury secretary.  It’s not often that a Hollywood producer is nominated for a cabinet position.

Midnight Special Turns into a pumpkin long before midnight.



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