Movie Review: Midnight Special

Cary, NC — Midnight Special comes from director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) and is his first foray into science fiction. The film stars Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as a father on the run from the police trying to get his son to a pre-conceived location where he may or may not be greeted by aliens. Despite the outlandish premise, Nichols keeps things grounded with a strong focus on characters and brings to mind another character based scifi drama, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.

Now I don’t want anyone to get too caught up in the Close Encounters comparison. The two films are quite different, but Nichols has found a way to tell a gripping story about family that just happens to also include aliens and other worlds, and Spielberg is one of the few directors who has also been successful in bringing characters and science fiction together in a believable way. Other than that, Midnight Special is wholly original, and all the better for it.

Shannon Excels in Lead Role

Odds are you’ve seen Michael Shannon in at least 10 different movies and you haven’t even realized it. He’s one of those actors who when you see his picture you go,”Oh, that guy!”  This isn’t the biggest movie he’s been in, but it’s easily the biggest where he is the lead, and per usual he doesn’t disappoint. His character comes from a cult-like religious community and has to make the daring decision to grab his son and flee after they begin to worship the child thanks to his unique abilities and prophecies. Shannon excels at expressing a lot with very little, and often says it all with just a look. It’s a very quiet performance, but also focused, intense, and always involving.

Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Joel Edgerton (Black Mass), and Kirsten Dunst (Fargo, Spider-Man) also do great work in supporting roles. Director Nichols cast very specifically it seems, getting great actors in even the smallest roles, as they all bring something different and believable to the film.

Director Creates Real And Fascinating Characters

Honestly, it seems like the true star of the movie is Nichols himself. His direction and script is so assured, and I found myself completely engrossed in this world and these characters that I actually winced anytime something bad happened to them.

Excellent, Original Science Fiction

Midnight Special is a great film, and even if science fiction isn’t your bag I still say give this one a shot, as the performances and characters are more than enough to keep you captivated, everything else is just icing on the cake. Absolutely worth seeing on the big screen!


Jordan Hunt covers movies for CaryCitizen. Read his Movie Reviews.

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