Release date: 22nd January 2016/Watch the trailer here
In the UK, The 5th Wave has been rated as a 15, meaning that no one under the age of 15 can watch it at the cinema. This is strange, because I can’t imagine anyone over the age of fifteen actually enjoying this film.
When I was thirteen, I would have loved every second of The 5th Wave, but now that I am a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I can see that it’s nothing more than yet another adaptation of a young adult novel (this one by Rick Yancey) set in a dystopian futuristic society (a novel which I haven’t read, so I can’t make any comment on whether or not the film does the book justice). Compared to its competitors – the really rather good Hunger Games franchise, the kind-of-okay Maze Runner series, the pretty-terrible-but-still-better-than-this Divergent trilogy – The 5th Wave falls flat.
The premise of The 5th Wave is, remarkably, quite interesting. Aliens are attacking Earth in a series of ‘waves’ – power outages, natural disasters, a deadly epidemic, and so on. If The 5th Wave had been a disaster movie on more of a global scale – something along the lines of Independence Day or War of the Worlds, perhaps – it could have had the potential to be really good (or at least entertaining). Instead, it’s a cringe-inducing teen romance that happens to be set during the apocalypse with the occasional bit of action, naff special effects, about fifty gaping plot holes, and approximately 0 aliens. Oh.
I like Chloë Grace Moretz. I loved her in Kick-Ass. She’s only 18-years-old, and she’s already starred in more films than a lot of actors twice her age. She was one of the main reasons that I wanted to see this film. Unfortunately, she’s not very good in it – more through the fault of a terrible screenplay and a boring character than her own acting talent. She plays Cassie, a teenage girl who is separated from her younger brother during the ‘waves’ and sets off on a solo mission to find him. Along the way, she meets Evan (Alex Roe) a creepy chap who looks about fifteen years older than her, but, predictably, romance ensues. Sigh.
Much more interesting is the other storyline which follows a group of child soldiers (more on that later) led by Ben (AKA ‘Zombie’), played by Nick Robinson, who you’ll probably recognise from last summer’s Jurassic World (he played the older brother, and he essentially plays the same character in this film). There’s also ‘Ringer’ (Maika Monroe), a clichéd ‘tough girl’ character who raises questions about how she manages to find so much eyeliner during the supposed apocalypse – the first of many plot holes to follow. I would have enjoyed The 5th Wave more if it had predominantly followed these characters instead of Cassie.
So, let’s talk about the plot holes, shall we?
- The first wave is a power outage that means no phones, no running water, no cars, and planes falling from the sky. Sounds pretty devastating, right? Well, don’t worry, because 30 minutes later, everyone’s driving around and using computers again.
- The third wave is a bout of avian flu that does a great job of wiping out unimportant characters and making everyone wear surgical masks for five minutes before it’s never mentioned or worried about again. How lucky that these deadly waves don’t seem to have any lasting consequences!
- The 5th Wave asks a lot of us. We’re expected to believe that, in a post-apocalyptic world under attack by aliens, the army is training children to fight back against the aliens while the army sit on their backsides. Seriously? In no circumstances would putting a gun in an eight-year-old’s hands ever be considered a good idea while there’s still a fully-functioning army.
Admittedly, some of these plot holes are resolved later on in the film, but the answers are so ridiculous that I wish they’d just left these issues unresolved. I’d long given up by the time the film’s finale rolled around.
The lacklustre ending sets The 5th Wave up for a sequel that undoubtedly will never happen because someone stupidly decidedly to rate this film a 15 for no apparent reason and boycotted its target audience in the process. It could have been a good film: if it had focused a little more on the alien attacks, kept up the darker tone of the film’s first half an hour, and made a Cassie a more dynamic heroine than one who bites her lip and sighs while creepily spying on her crush take a topless dip.