Review – Midnight Special

2016’s Midnight Special offers a tense and moving spielberg-esque sci fi story that is stocked full of impressive acting performances.

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The latest of our movie reviews is Midnight Special – which was released in 2016, and fared poorly in the box office, grossing only a third of its $18m budget back. It was both written and directed by Jeff Nichols (whose previous Matthew McConaughey film Mud was very well received).

The film follows the plight of two men fleeing from a cult with a boy who appears to have some form of special powers. The men are Roy (Michael Shannon), the boy’s father, and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and we quickly learn that the religious cult that Roy has escaped is led by Pastor Meyer (played by the late Sam Shepard).

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Later in the film we also meet Roy’s wife (Kirsten Dunst) as the men continue their attempts to flee both the cult, and also the authorities (including Adam Driver as an NSA analyst), whilst trying to learn what a pattern of numbers that have been identified, represent.

There is little more needed in terms of plot as frankly the mystery that plays out in terms of characters and motives is part of the enjoyment of the film.

There are two main things that I would draw attention to beyond the highly engrossing plot.

The first, is the quality of acting performances. For what is effectively a low budget sci-fi mystery, there are remarkably powerful performances from the leads – especially Shannon, Edgerton, Dunst and Jaeden Martell (who plays the 8 year old boy).

Michael Shannon is one of my favourite American actors  and very rarely puts a foot wrong (I can’t blame him for any of my issues for Man of Steel). In fact, I’ve just looked at his recent filmography and I’ve missed some of his most recent work so a Michael Shannon film marathon is in my near future…

Secondly is the original score. David Wingo provides the music to the film and I found it very powerful and additive to the tension in the film – it is music that I have listened to since seeing the film. Combined with the cinematography of the film (by Adam Stone), it is compelling.

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It does feel somewhat like the sort of film that early 1980’s Steven Spielberg might have made now. It may be low budget, but it doesn’t feel like it – the performances are remarkable, if holds tension throughout and I felt really delivered in the final parts the film. Really enjoyed it.

8/10

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