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A father (Michael Shannon) goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), and uncover the truth behind the boy's special powers. What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately his father risks everything to protect Alton and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever, in this genre–defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human
Performances Elevate An Already Solid Masterpiece
By Jared M. Kuntz on May 20, 2016
Jeff Nichols, the writer/director behind two instant American classics Mud and Take Shelter, brings us Midnight Special. The film is a blend of genres and subgenres, being a family drama as well as a chase film, mixed with political and religious conspiracy elements, and being a sci-fi thriller at the core. It juggles them all perfectly by bringing focus to the people of the world instead of the actual situation. Roy Tomlin takes his son Alton (who was adopted by cult leader Calvin Meyer) with Roy's best friend Lucas, as they race to get Alton "where he needs to be," for he is not like us, with the FBI also on the hunt for Alton, and NSA specialist Paul Sevier acting as their consultant.
To reveal anything outside of that would spoil quite a bit of the movie, as well as the effect it has. The film is a slow-burn, having a few action sequences in the form of car chases and one brief shootout (of which was extremely intense, being one-sided), but is mainly a somber thriller about a father who will go to the ends of the earth to keep his son safe. Everything about Midnight Special was brilliant, from the writing and direction to the seamless visuals and outstanding production values, but it was the acting that made the movie so much more. Michael Shannon was the most real father I've seen depicted on screen, fighting tooth & nail for his son's safety, as well as being both strict and soft when he needs to be. Jaeden Lieberher was incredible as Alton, the boy with otherworldly abilities that everyone is fighting over, and his performance was both astounding and heart-breaking, for his powers come with a hefty price. Joel Edgerton was phenomenal as Lucas, the best friend of Roy and a Texas Ranger. He's a man pulled into a conflict he half understands, but fights because he knows the stakes, and those involved. He knows it's for the right reasons, but being a man of the law, he walks a line that Roy tends to cross, with Lucas there as the mediator to bring Roy back from crossing it. Adam Driver as Paul Sevier added intrigue to the movie, as well as humor and heart, as he isn't the stereotypical government agent, but instead a man who simply wants to know about Alton, but not at the behest of ruining lives. Finally, Kirsten Dunst's Sarah Tomlin, the distraught mother who's been watching from the sidelines as another man raised her son, and couldn't do anything to help. That is, until Roy shows up, and her motherly instincts kick into high gear.
This isn't a movie for everyone, that's a fact, because some people don't care for sci-fi, even though it's the most inventive genre. But, this movie is a must-see for anyone who loves film, and those who want something that's both a bit of new and a bit of old, as it isn't a full homage to films like E.T and Close Encounters, but carries similar elements that help to craft this truly brilliant masterpiece that is easily Nichols' third instant classic. I can't wait to see his film "Loving" later this year, but until then, get a taste of different with this sci-fi powerhouse that's the best character study I've seen to date.