released 15 April 12A | 112 minutes
Director Jeff Nichols
Cast Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton,
Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver
“What’s Kryptonite?” asks boy- on- the- run Alton ( Jaeden Lieberher), freshly rescued from a religious cult who believe he has mysterious powers by dad Roy ( Michael Shannon) and Roy’s friend Lucas ( Joel Edgerton). Lucas has given Alton a fistful of superhero comics to read in the back of their escape vehicle, and it’s clear Superman is his favourite. Roy grimaces, chastising Lucas for giving them to Alton in the first place: “He needs to know what’s real.”
That’s about as clear a mission statement as you could get for Jeff Nichols’ fourth film, a superhero flick in all but name. If M Night Shyamalan’s similarly- toned Unbreakable was the first entry in a shared universe, Midnight Special would be its Winter Soldier. It’s solemn, tense, with a cynical eye on governmental control – there are plenty of parallels. But there are also differences. Midnight Special is so grounded in the real world that its exposition- spouting cameo doesn’t come from an Arnim Zola equivalent, but from Fox News rantbot Nancy Grace ( one’s on a computer screen, one’s on a TV screen. One has questionable political views, one’s… Actually, we’ll just leave it there).
It has serious points to make about religious obsession, living in a weaponised society and, most significantly, freedom. The opening image – a piece of tape covering up a hotel- door peephole – might seem throwaway, but it’s a neat visual metaphor for the film’s key theme: hiding might stop people from seeing you, but it also stops you from receiving information. Eventually, you have to let the light in.
Packed with powerful performances and setpieces that are little short of awe- inspiring ( brace yourself for the meteor storm), with a layered script filled with subtle foreshadowing, it’s a rewarding watch.
As for that early question? Ex- Zod Shannon doesn’t answer. Perhaps because he knows Midnight Special has no relevant weaknesses. Sam Ashurst
Adam Driver’s first day on set was the day he got the news he’d be playing Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens.
Well, that scared the hitchhiker off.