Release date: 8th April 2016/Watch the trailer here
Midnight Special is the latest film from director Jeff Nichols and, frankly, it is the sort of science fiction film that there should be more of. A breath of fresh air in a genre so densely populated by effects-heavy, big budget blockbusters, Midnight Special is almost jarring in its simplicity. A straightforward chase movie at its very heart, it follows a young boy, Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), who has special powers that lead a cult to believe that he is their saviour, and the government to believe that he is a weapon. Alton goes on the run from both the cult and the government with the help of his father, Roy (Michael Shannon), his father’s old friend, Lucas (Joel Edgerton), and Alton’s mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst).
The plot unfolds with all of the twists, turns and urgency of a conspiracy thriller, but with Alton’s abilities – shooting beams of light from his eyes, bringing satellites crashing down from the sky – giving the film a sci-fi edge. In the wrong hands, these alien elements could have lowered the tone of Midnight Special to borderline ridiculous, but in Jeff Nichols’ more than capable hands – and aided by some beautiful, but sparingly used, special effects – they elevate the film into something that is constantly surprising and impressively imaginative.
It is these subtle touches that breathe life, depth and emotion into Midnight Special. It is as relentlessly paced as the chase that forms its central plot, beginning shrouded in mystery and gradually disclosing more and more surprising reveals as the film plays out. Still, despite this relentless pace, Midnight Special never feels rushed. Although uneven at times, it builds to a breathless, emotional finale that is simply beautiful to behold. This final act also serves as a reminder of the central message of the film: perhaps, more than anything else, Midnight Special is about the relationship between a parent and their child.