Midnight Special is essentially one long chase but still manages to deliver a gripping story.
Here, there’s no chosen one or cursed child. A father is simply trying to take his son to a specific place and time while they’re hounded by a cult and the government who want to know what’s going on.
Micheal Shannon is good at playing menacing individuals, but he proves to be equally good at portraying an every-man through a restrained performance as Alton’s father. The rest of the cast also did well and they’re able to create individuals out of thin characterizations.
The script drops you right in the middle of the story, using dialogue to reveal details and visual clues to drop hints. To offset the slow pace, there are bursts of action. Cinematography and score help turn these moments into genuine surprise. One scene that may or may not involve an asteroid looks believable and portend of something possibly bigger and life-changing for the whole world.
All these simple elements result in an engaging story that isn’t dumbed down. Midnight Special is able to sustain suspense and you’ll patiently go along the ride to find out the truth.
The characters are able to reach their destination but the movie has no intention of giving any answers. In fact, it piles on more questions than it can answer. The third act chooses to delve into the family rather than tackle its mystery.
Still, this is what Midnight Special set out to do. Right from the start, it already tells the audience that it’s a serious sci-fi thriller where the journey matters more than the destination.
In this journey, the movie takes a look at faith. Alton’s family, including his father’s friend Lucas, is committed even though they don’t how it will all end. It also examines what drives people in the face of the unknown. The cult sees Alton as a savior while the FBI perceives him as a threat.
Midnight Special asks, how would you respond to the extraordinary? this question organically emerges out in the film in a simple yet impactful way that made this movie special.
Midnight Special is a gripping sci-fi thriller that examines how people respond to a higher power, thanks to a taut well-executed script.