Waitress, I’ll Have the… Midnight Special (2016)

Just what I was looking for.  So this is about a father and his son (Michael Shannon, Jaeden Lieberher) who are on the run, as they are being pursued by a cult and the FBI.  The kid has unworldly powers, which could mean that we have arrived at the predicted apocalypse, amongst other things, but the question remains: how long can the two of them stay safe and remain together?  I’ve been a fan of Jeff Nichols since he hit appeared on my radar with Take Shelter.  I haven’t seen Shotgun Stories, but I have seen all of his other films, and he consistently makes 4-star movies.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise to hear that he’s done it again, and he has made a thought provoking science-fiction adventure that will keep you constantly engaged.

1I wonder if this could be re-pitched as a goofy road trip movie.

This is some inspired filmmaking.  I was never certain just where this was going, and I loved how I kept learning more about these characters and their backgrounds as the journey continued.  If you were to watch this completely cold, you would be thrown through the ringer.  Is it a crime story that centers on a kidnapping?  Is it a religious cult movie with a message?  Or is it a crazy science fiction with the possibility of becoming a superhero origin story?  It is kind of all three, and this is a prime example of genre bending because it covers more than a few different movie types, which helps to keep you on your toes as an audience member.  It’s also just good storytelling, and when you get talented actors like Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, you will always be interested in where this is going next.

2I also really liked Adam Driver, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hear Kylo Ren and was half waiting for a temper tantrum.

Midnight Special is a movie where you’re never certain what the next scene has in store.  It doesn’t ever over-explain the situation, but it also never simply tells you, it shows you, which is what you want from any and every cool genre film.  You’re very unsure just what this child is capable of, and when it does come time for him to do his thing, it’s flabbergasting.  I like Jeff Nichols so much as a director because he is capable of infusing some cool genre elements to a movie that is really a drama at its core, which makes for a more compelling story.  I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I am more than fine with him continuing to work with Michael Shannon for the rest of his career.

Midnight Special (2016) ****

– Critic for Hire


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