Midnight Special

RATED - (PG-13) -112-MIN-2016


                           "There is much that is Special about Midnight"

There is much to admire in writer/director: (Jeff Nichol's) latest film: (Midnight Special) and the setup is intriguing to say the least.
As the movie opens, an amber alert in the state of Texas, advises the public to be on the lookout for an abducted 8 year old boy: Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) who is in the company of his father: Roy (Michael Shannon) and another man: Lucas (Joel Edgerton). Alton, who wears blue goggles and head phones for some reason, is indeed holed up in a motel, in the middle of nowhere with the two men. They tape cardboard to the windows to keep the light out, and the boy reads comic books with a flashlight, as they wait for the cover of darkness to get back on the road. They are headed for...somewhere and they need to be there on a specific date.

But these two men who have Alton, are not a danger to the boy. In fact, they seem to be protecting him. Why are they running, and where do the men need to get Alton to so desperately? Why does the church, where he was a member, and the Government want to find this boy so badly?

(Nichols) is a talented filmmaker, whose two previous efforts: (Take Shelter, and Mud) were wonderful and rich films. (Take Shelter) is a dark movie about a loving father of a little deaf girl and husband, who thinks he is either going crazy, or seeing some sort of visions of the Apocalypse. With that fear, he begins to build a bomb shelter in his back yard.....much to the chagrin of the town, who thinks he may be going crazy. (Mud) was a wonderful fable with more than a hint of Tom Sawyer, about life on the Mississippi for a couple of boys and the man they find living in a boat, that is stuck in a tree on an island in that river. The underlying themes in those films and for certain this movie, is one of family; a fractured one, but still...taking care of the family.

The character of Roy played by the always wonderful (Shannon) who is a Nichols's constant, is determined to help his little boy get to that said place along with his state trooper friend Lucas, no matter what the cost. We learn as we go, Alton, and missing mom: Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) were all members of the fundamentalist church group led by their imposing leader and adoptive father of Alton: Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard). Calvin believes that the boy, with the strange tongues that he is giving to speak in, along with the odd collections of numbers he has revealed, is a prophet for the coming end of days. He wants Alton back desperately, and has dispatched some diligent armed church members to retrieve him from Roy.

Meanwhile, the FBI raids the church compound and start to interrogate the members, as some of Alton's visions and numbers are classified defense information and they want answers. This also attracts the attention of the NSA and in comes investigator: Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) a timid but thoughtful smart agent who is intrigued by this little boy, with some very strange gifts.

To say much more, would spoil the road trip that Nichols takes you on. We go into the back roads of the southern states, as piece by piece, he unravels his mysterious fable about a parents fear for their child, and to what lengths they will go to to protect him.

(Dunst) who they pick up along the way, is very good in her role as a loving mom, and each of the three main characters have crucial scenes with the very talented (Leiberher) and how this special young boy affects them.(Shannon) could just walk and be good, but I must say that (Edgerton) is a standout, as he is the stranger  who looked into Alton's eyes and decided he must help. He is excellent. Comparisons to part Spielberg, Carpenter, and Cameron are all justified, as Nichols has expressed these influences on films he saw from growing up.

But Nichols is his own filmmaker and his feeling for moments, tone and really his heart, make this fellow a man to be reckoned with in years to come. The ending has been mentioned much in reviews and I must say as I watched it, I was bit shocked at where this went. I was confused...and then ,I was trying to wrap it around in my head. Later, I thought more about it and was thankful for a film that at least had the ability to capture my wonder again, even if it didn't register at first.
That's pretty good,thoughtful film making.... for a change. You should see this movie.  

watch the trailer: