Midnight Special - The Riles Review

Updated on April 28, 2016
Source

I can’t remember whether the first time I saw a Michael Shannon movie was of him in Iceman, or Take Shelter, another Jeff Nichols-directed film. Either way it was a good way to start, although having said that is sort of redundant because Michael Shannon is always spectacular to watch. Whether he’s being subdued or going balls to the wall, he always nails it. Midnight Special is his latest vehicle, and just proves that he’s better and better with every film.

Midnight Special makes Shannon the father of young Alton, a boy with unexplainable powers. They cross the country, fleeing the cult they used to belong to as well as the FBI, and searching for something they don’t fully understand yet.

The plot is something reminiscent of a lot of the sci-fi and chase films of the 80s, but it still feels wholly original, perhaps because it is so softly spoken for a film. Midnight Special never relishes in itself with long monologues or huge scene-breaking explanations of events. You’re never force-fed information, and this will make or break the film for people. For me, it was incredible. It left you in the same position as the characters, and I felt like a detective every time I figured something out. If you don’t want to work for your movies though, this will bore the crap out of you. It does so much with so little, so if you can't handle the minimalism you'll want to explode.

The film doesn’t really have any villains either. Just a lot of people confused and fascinated by Alton, and all of them want him for different reasons. The closest you could come to an antagonist would be the cult that Alton is escaping from, but even then, it's never about villainy. The film is an excellent example of third dimensional characters, because it never paints the cult as a bunch of crazy kool-aid people, like Red State or The Sacrament. They’re a family who believe in something, and they’re scared of the possibilities that Alton brings. Even the FBI aren’t plotting anything, they’re just looking for answers, like everybody else. The one thing I wanted more of was Sam Shepard, who plays Calvin Meyer, the leader of the cult. He isn’t some psychotic Manson style dude. He brings gravity to the character, not just insanity.

"I know you did a fart, I'm not coming closer."
"I know you did a fart, I'm not coming closer." | Source

The entire cast is excellent. Everybody brings an A-game, from the henchmen of the cult to the lackeys in the FBI. And with the understated storytelling, nobody seems to exist just because the plot calls for it. Everyone feels like a real person, with personality and emotion that seem to run way beyond the confines of the film. Michael Shannon is, again, brilliant. It’s one of his more subtle roles, but it’s perfectly balanced, between the caring father and the struggling believer. Joel Edgerton plays the accompanying best friend well, offering reason without ever feeling like he's just there to serve that purpose. Kirsten Dunst is also remarkable, and even young Jaeden Lieberher is excellent as young Alton. He’s everything the role demanded.

On the other side of the chase, Adam Driver plays an NSA guy, who inadvertently leads the charge towards Alton. His character was probably my favourite, because he didn’t come across as a straight up sceptic through the whole film. He was always in a place of doubt and wonder. He is the perfect amalgamation of Scully and Mulder from The X-Files.

Wrapping it up...

If you’re willing to dig into movies, this is a gem. There’s so much brewing in Midnight Special that 111 minutes felt too short for me. Although making a longer, more expository movie might just kill the magic that already makes it so special. If you can’t be bothered doing any deciphering and just want to absorb a little bit of something different, you should still go for this. In fact, in any scenario or mindset you should watch this film, because it's fantastic. But if you take the time to sit down and really dive into this movie, I promise you won’t regret it.

Midnight Special - 9.5/10

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)