Midnight Special is the latest film from director Jeff Nichols and frequent collaborator in lead actor Michael Shannon.
It’s a science-fiction drama that borrows themes from other sci-films that have come before it, but Nichols adds his unique somber touch and nails it.
Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a boy with supernatural powers and his father Roy (Michael Shannon) are on the run from the FBI and the NSA as well as a cult they used to belong to, as Roy and his old friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) attempt to take Alton to a destination where the source of Alton’s power can be revealed.
Saying anything more than that could potentially spoil the film, especially considering that the beauty of Midnight Special is that it keeps you guessing the whole way through, right up until the big reveal in the end.
As viewer’s we are dropped right into the middle of the story, mid-chase as more details slowly emerge throughout the film. The choice to do that is a testament to the director’s confidence in himself and in the audience. The lack of exposition works excellently in this film as it keeps the mystery going.
Michael Shannon and the young Jaeden Lieberher are fantastic in their roles as father as son. The supporting cast including Joel Edgerton as the apprehensive but loyal friend Lucas, Kristen Dunst as Alton’s mother Sarah, Adam Driver as the NSA specialist Paul Sevier and Sam Shepard as the cult leader Calvin Meyer are all great in their roles also.
Midnight Special is Jeff Nichols’ fourth film now and he’s kept a brooding, dramatic tone in all of his films so far. It’s not the most viewer-friendly style of storytelling and it may come of as slow and tedious to some people, however looking past that, all of his film’s have been standouts, whether you love or hate the style and Midnight Special is no exception.
It’s the type of science fiction film that you could imagine Spielberg having a ball with, but there’s no comparison between the two directors, as Nichols tends to aim for a more grounded and gloomy tone.
Midnight Special should appeal to fans of Nichols’ past work and science fiction fans alike, but don’t expect a sensationalised piece of work as this is as pure a drama as you can get.
Because he wanted final cut of the film, Jeff Nichols originally considered to make the film with an independent film studio rather than at Warner Bros Pictures. It wasn’t until his last meeting with Warner Bros that he informed them of this. However, the producers at the company still agreed to make the film, due to the small budget needed for it.