Midnight Special, directed by Jeff Nichols, is a sci-fi thriller about a boy (Jaeden Lieberher) with special gifts being transported to a specific destination by his father (Michael Shannon, Man of Steel) while avoiding religious extremists and the federal government, who see the boy as God’s gift or a potential threat to national security respectively.
A film that started out like a potential child-kidnapping story is quickly revealed to have a religious/sci-fi undertone to the whole plot. Imagine coming across a person who possesses supernatural abilities, like the ones we often see in comic book superheroes, but could be mistaken as religious practices like speaking in tongues or seeing a certain future event. This film certainly puts into perspective the question of what is science fiction and what is religion. Both are unexplained mysteries that no one has a clear answer to, and Nichols did a wonderful job mixing elements of both beliefs in a fluid storyline.
The whole plot is nothing really new, but is certainly something that has rarely been explored. In a mundane world where superpowers were only fictitious plots in books and movies, how would we react if there really is such thing as a superpower. Also, is this power a divine gift or a threat to all mankind? Films like Chronicle, Unbreakable and even Hancock had explored such similar themes of an alienated human due to a previously undiscovered power. Midnight Special is certainly another great addition to such genre.
The cast were not exactly box-office draws, but their acting chops did do the intense film justice. Shannon and Kristen Dunst did a great job as the boy’s parents trying to reconnect with him despite the boy’s threatening powers. Shannon’s portrayal as a father committing everything, including his life, to get his son to the destination is remarkable. Shannon and the boy’s actor, Lieberher, certainly shared a personal connection in the film.
Overall, this film may not be the blockbuster type leading up to the summer blockbuster season coming real soon, but Midnight Special is nonetheless a great film exploring a rarely discussed issue. If you are a fan of sci-fi films, this is not one to give a miss.