Midnight Special (2016)
The pairing of Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud) is back with another suspense-laden tale toying with the concept of the unknown and our stance to it. This time, the story is something of a cross between Stephen King's 1980's fiction, E.T. and D.A.R.Y.L., as Shannon and his pal Joel Edgerton are fleeing across the United States with Shannon's son, a mysterious 8-year-old prodigy, with both FBI and our protagonists' religious cult hot on their trail. The suspense is built around whether or not they get where they want before their chasers catch them, which is as run-of-the-mill as you get in this genre, but Nichols does manage to energize it all, not least through David Wingo's forceful musical score. The thematics, on the other hand, which are meant to be intriguing and captivating, are as vague and generic as stories such as these are when the writer doesn't really have any new ideas to convey. What's most disappointing, however, is that Nichols isn't even able to give his talented group of actors lines to make their predicaments resound. Shannon, Adam Driver and Sam Shepard in particular are giving their all to bring realism and zest into this tale, but they ultimately cannot make us believe that we're watching anything else than a contrived sci-fi story.