Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst
The saying – ‘Its not the destination but the journey that matters’ doesn’t sound more profound than in context to watching ‘Midnight Special’. Starts off beautifully by drawing the audience into its mysterious world setting up a tense atmosphere which is well supported by its talented cast. Well that’s just the first 40 minutes run-time after which it derails spectacularly spiraling into an abyss and diffusing the pent-up mystery along the way.
An 8 year old kid Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) is kidnapped. A religious cult and the FBI are on the lookout for the kid using all their available resources each for their own agenda. His kidnappers Roy (Michael Shannon) who is also his biological father and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are well prepared and committed to take the kid to the prophesied time and place. What happens when he reaches the destination with cult on hot pursuit, FBI, NSA and Homeland security on their tail and whether his mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) unable to let him go.
There have been many movies in the past based on a similar premise with varying levels of box office success and critical acclaim, so ‘Midnight Special’ is neither new nor innovative there. What sets it apart from the others is how brilliantly the first half of the movie was handled – the pacing, superb acting, the tense background score, the information released in perfect sequence to further elevate the suspense; a lot was going for it. With all these elements working so beautifully together, the hype and expectations of what is to come also gets elevated. But what transpires from here was such a big let down which is a complete contrast to where it was originally going. The story gets stagnant, the only form of mystery they could accomplish are the over lengthy pauses before the characters utter their words which also turn out to be duds. The final payoff, though not entirely sub-par just wasn’t handled well and one starts to wonder rather helplessly how it all fell apart.
There is still a lot of good that holds some things together like sensible and realistic performances by all their leads, the kid in the central role played by Jaeden is likable and aptly suited for the character. There is a methodical haste and the sudden influx of information stimulates your brain to watch out for something spectacular (at least it did succeed in raising expectations), the dark background and a tense background score suits the theme perfectly. Another notable performance is from Kirsten Dunst who is rather content with a limited role both in terms of screen presence or the impact the character makes on the story. Last but no way the least is the terrific cinematography that captures the moments beautifully and at the same time escalates the necessary tension.
A journey that starts magically gets stagnant quickly and loses its way.