Midnight Special

Midnight Special

In Theatres: 
Apr 01, 2016
Running Time: 
111 minutes

Midnight Special requires you to have faith. The trailers for the film do an excellent job at teasing audiences that there is something strange going on with 8-year-old Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), but they don’t give much away. Instead the film lets events unfold as bits and pieces of the puzzled are filled in. Unfortunately it feels like it’s missing a few pieces and the puzzle feels incomplete, forcing to you simply believe in what you’re watching.


Roy (Michael Shannon) has taken his son Alton away from a religious cult and is heading to a secret location in order to fulfill some special purpose. You see, Alton is not an ordinary child. He can mysteriously translate radio waves and communicate with satellites up in space and other machines. Oh, and his eyes can emit this mysterious blue light. Alton’s removal from the compound triggers a series of events that has Roy being pursued by both the cult and the government. With the help of his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton), he hopes to get Alton to this mystery location where he’ll finally be safe.


Midnight Special is a hard movie to describe because there’s not much to go on. At the center of everything is this special kid, Alton, who has a variety of powers that are never fully explained. Everyone is after him because of it. The cult views him as their savior. The authorities view him as a threat. Roy views him as his son. They all have this faith in Alton, but they don’t really know why. I felt the same.


I had faith that things would be explained. I went into the film blind about the story having previously not watched any of the trailers. The mystery surrounding Alton was intriguing to me, and Midnight Special does a good job at setting everything up, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was less than rewarding by the end. There was never quite the payoff and I instead just settled with a simple, “That’s it?” I kept hoping that as it crept closer to the end that things would get better, but it didn’t. The story was lackluster compared to the mystery surrounding it.


Overall I found Midnight Special to be not that special. There’s a semblance of an idea throughout the film, but I couldn’t help but want something more out of it. The fleeting scenes between Alton and Adam Driver’s Paul Sevier are wonderful and showcase the possibility of what could have been. Unfortunately the faith I had in the film at the beginning slowly diminished until there was not much left.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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