“These are the words of the Lord…or the federal government.”
Giving a vintage look to the supernatural genre, Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special carefully blends the two components to form a unique, creative narrative that rests heavily on the unknown as it digs deep to expose the soul of its main protagonist.
Beginning at a ranch on the outskirts of Texas, Nichols' film follows a father and son as they go on the run when the boy is discovered to hold special powers. Their journey proves anything but a two man feat as they enlist the help of others along the way, all of whom share the same goal: get the boy to a predetermined location by Friday, March 6th.
Bypassing the typical genre cliches, the film embraces its drab colors as it works hard to feast upon your unyielding longing to understand everything. Putting you in the mind of the characters, you find yourself forced to piece together clues to the massive puzzle. And these clues aren't as obvious as you'd expect as Nichols refuses to coddle his viewers, making a family-centered story that will visually stimulate the imagination of the youngsters while mentally engaging those willing to accept the challenge to think through the process.
Michael Shannon and Jaeden Lieberher give fantastic performances as father and son. While neither appears to fully understand the other, their chemistry matches their on-screen relationship well. Their distance, while subtle, is understandable given their early separation, ultimately allowing the film an even higher sense of uncertainty to pull from.
Joel Edgerton and Kristen Dunst offer up solid supporting work, as does Adam Driver as FBI specialist Sevier, the agent tracking the young boy. Each serves a distinct purpose in the large picture story, even if they themselves aren't fully aware of their impact.
As he story progresses and Nichols continues to integrate a healthy amount of comedy into his sci-fi drama, you can't help but appreciate the organic pace and timeline of the story. Sure, there are moments of question, like when two men track our family to a hotel room with absolutely no information to go on, or when Sevier deciphers a hidden code without presenting to the audience the method to his genius. The bullet points look good, but the execution leaves you scratching your head in a bit of confusion. However, you let the bleak moments pass. They are few and far between and their inclusion helps to move the story along. For a film like Midnight Special you have to be willing to sacrifice full explanations for the sake of entertainment.
The film peaks during the pivotal third act. Forging ahead with a renewed sense of energy, everything comes together well as our runaways fight the test of time in an effort to reach their final destination. Incorporating a car chase sequence, a reverse hostage situation and a splurge if special effects, Midnight Special somehow asks more questions than it answers, leaving the audience in the ideal situation - longing for more yet content with what they have been given.
fight the test of time in an effort to reach their final destination. Incorporating a car chase sequence, a reverse hostage situation and a splurge if special effects, Midnight Special somehow asks more questions than it answers, leaving the audience in the ideal situation - longing for more yet content with what they have been given.