The 5th Wave – 2016
Director J Blakeson
Screenplay Susanna Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner based on the book by Rick Yancey
Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Alex Roe, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber, Zackary Arthur
When one thinks back on the deluge of dystopian drama that has swept through the literary and cinematic universe over the last decade or so, this will likely not be on the top of their list. It’s a truly average film with a good cast that is sunk into the abyss of a story that demands adherence to it’s bland premise. Imagine having Livingston, Bello and Schreiber in a film where you can’t remember a single line uttered by any of them. That’s not the worst of it though.
The story is a slight twist on what we are used to seeing. Usually the kids are being thrust into a role of prominence after years of oppression. This time, the oppression happens before our eyes. As the herd is thinned, and those who are left form small bands in indefensible compounds, there is a concerted effort to separate the kids from the adults and the adults are duly slaughtered by what appears to be the U.S. Military. There must be some misunderstanding, right? Well, it’s only the middle of the 1st act, so…
During this process, Moretz’ Cassie Sullivan loses contact with her brother, Sammy (Arthur), who has been shuttled away by the Military to a camp miles away. The kids are then trained to hunt down and kill what appear to be green brained aliens, when you look at them just right, behind a lens provided by said Military. First one to see things outside the lines don’t raise your hand.
Meanwhile, Cassie has found herself into a speck of trouble and winds up mixing up her feelings and things with Evan Walker (Roe). Walker is a weird dude who is extremely knowledgeable who really seems intent on making sure that Cassie stay alive. Go figure.
If it all seems trite here, it’s because even though the creators of the story are trying a different tact, it’s really not a different story. This stuff has been playing on SyFy for ages. Before that, we had Independence Day, Red Dawn, then V., then Twilight Zone, then just about every B movie from the 50’s.
There is nothing here distinguishing this film from any of those other stories. The only appeal it can possibly have is if you are young enough to have not been inundated by the other examples and still think that it’s pluck that wins out over experience. Moretz, for her part, seems a bit pluckered out. She’s been in a lot of average stuff lately. She better back off for a while before her acting talent gets Nicolas Caged.
The main point here is that now kids are the heroes and the bad guys are just as susceptible to bullets and plans that fall apart. So when they destroy a base and a bunch of kids are whisked away as hostages in the last act, we can’t be surprised that a rag tag group of kids think nothing of the daunting task of going to a bigger base and rescuing those kids in the next movie. If there is a next movie. Well, definitely on SyFy.
(** out of *****)