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Complete coincidence, really, that just after I saw “Midnight Special”, with director and cast from “Take Shelter”, I saw “10 Cloverfield Lane”. Reminded me all the more painful of the differences in style and quality, and also the intensity of acting you can find these days not so much in the likes of John Goodman anymore, but always when it comes to Michael Shannon.

Less intensely maybe than in the previous Nichols film, but also always on edge, Shannon tries to get a boy into safety after removing him from some form of doomsday sect. This is a violent endeavor, the sect does not abandon what they consider their savior lightly, but the stakes could not be higher, everybody seems to think. The boy himself is not so sure about his identity or importance. He knows he has powers, and that he has to wear swimming goggles most of the time to keep himself from doing harm to others. But only near the end of the film does he get a concept of who he is and what he is supposed to be doing.

This direction of the plot aimed at a “reveal” is at the heart of the film, and at the same time to me a completely underwhelming plot device. Even if nobody had ever cared to explain what that boy’s powers are exactly and where they stem from, I would not have cared. The quality of the film is in the quest for safety, the machinations of those forces that want to lay their hands on him, the unquestioning love of his family. Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton can give it their all, Adam Driver can contribute his eerie usual self, and you have a tense thriller of sorts. With the resolution, you suddenly have a toe dipping into mythological questions, and really to no visible avail. It seems no coincidence that towards the end there is a lot of dialogue about the nature and origin of the boy, but very little about the consequences. “So what?” – is what I shouted …

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/midnight_special_2015/

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