What do you get if you cross classic 80’s film D.A.R.Y.L. with the more recent Tomorrowland? Well, in my humble opinion at least, you get Midnight Special, which was a surprise, was it a nice one?
Midnight Special starts with cloak and dagger secrecy. You are unsure what you’re watching, who’s who, what’s what and who’s good or who’s bad. This is all, eventually, worked out but to start with it makes for an intriguing opening.
Writer and director Jeff Nichols has previously bought us Mud, which you may remember was a Matthew McConaughey movie with the star putting on his best Southern drawl y’all. I mention this as Mr Nichols is at it again with Midnight Special. Everyone speaks in a deep Southern drawl which can be quite difficult to understand at times. I’m unsure if this is the accents or the sound quality but I’m leaning towards the former.
Midnight Special is the story of a father Roy, played by Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, The Iceman), who goes on the run with his son Alton, played by Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, The Confirmation). They are pursued by the FBI and an NSA agent Sevier, played by Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: Episode VII) and a strange cult headed by Sam Shephard (The Notebook, Killing Them Softly) who are all drawn to the powers Alton possesses.
Accents aside I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen this movie before in various guises. This came to fruition towards the end of the movie which pretty much took the Tomorrowland, there’s another world that we can’t see, and used it verbatim. The link to the 1985 movie D.A.R.Y.L. is a little more tenuous and has a lot to do with Barret Oliver, who played the title Daryl, looking not dissimilar to Lieberher in this movie. But there are other similarities too: young boy living with a family who know their son is different but don’t know why.
I was really looking forward to seeing the film but left ultimately a little disappointed. Mud is a much better film whereas this just lacked a certain something, I can’t quite say what that is but it just needed a kick to get moving. It tries with the usual last-half-hour-race-to-finish but it’s too little too late at this point. Not a bad movie but could have been so much more.