Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special opens in a low-end motel room, where a television news story about a missing boy named Alton Meyer illuminates the otherwise dark room. The news story suggests that Alton Meyer has been kidnapped, having been last scene by his paternal father Roy, traveling across Texas in his old, gray Chevelle. The camera pulls back to reveal that we are in fact in the room of Roy himself, who watches the broadcast while his young son Alton reads in the corner. Alton is dressed peculiarly, wearing swimming googles and thick headphones, secluded in his own little world as he reads a comic book underneath a bedsheet. Roy and Alton are accompanied by Lucas, another middle-aged man who appears to have some type of military training, and after the new-story concludes Roy tells Lucas and his son it's time to go. Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special is a film drenched in mystery and intrigue, slowly revealing its story and circumstances of its characters as its story progresses. Not too long into Midnight Special it becomes clear that Alton is not like most people, being a character who possesses mysterious powers, and as the film progresses it reveals itself as a chase movie, with Alton being pursued both by a cult that thinks he is their savior, as well as the military who wishes to understand the power which this young boy possesses. The narrative of Midnight Special certainly isn't the most original idea, but I'd argue that what Nichols has crafted with Midnight Special is a story of paternity and parenthood, using the tropes and story structure of a science-fiction, road movie to tell a touching story of parental sacrifice. Roy is a character who will do anything to help his son, and much of the story of Midnight Special is about a father having to come to grasps with the idea that his son might not belong on this planet. Without going into too much detail, Roy's story arch is one of paternal sacrifice, a man who essentially sacrifices himself for the betterment of a his son. Hearkening back to some of the more beloved science fiction films, Midnight Special uses a combination of ingenuity, creative storytelling, and craft to create a sense of wonder around its story, exhibiting a moody, supernatural feel that envelopes the entire film. The film never relies on huge set pieces to engage the audience, relying more on well crafted compositions and sound design that help give this relatively small budget science fiction story an epic scale. One such choice is Nichols use of meditative bird eye view compositions throughout Midnight Special, a simple yet effective decision that evokes a sense of voyeurism, as if these characters are being watched by some supernatural force from above. While the heart of the story is this father-son relationship, Midnight Special's thematic ideals center around humanities fear-mongering around anything they can't comprehend. From the government wishing to harness Alton's powers for military applications, to a religious cult who views Alton as the messiah and their only way to salvation, Midnight Special touches on humanities need to rationalize their worldview, with both these groups viewing Alton in a way that fits into their preconceived worldview, as Midnight Special explores the relationship between fear, ignorance, and hate. Roy, and Lucas, are the only two characters who don't see Alton in a selfish light, concerned only for his well-being, not responding out of fear, nor letting their ignorance lead to viewing Alton's mysterious powers as simply something which can help or save them. In the end, Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special is a well-crafted, superbly acted Sci-Fi, Mystery that works on multiple levels, being a tender father-son story, an engaging mystery, and an interesting exploration of humanities' need to rationalize anything they can't easily comprehend.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.