The 5th Wave shows great potential for an awesome sci-fi flick but fatally under-uses big talents on the cast list.
The audience follows Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz, The Equalizer) as she traverses the woods in hopes of locating her family after an alien attack disrupts their peaceful Ohio lives.
The aliens attack in waves; first knocking out communications, the second is natural disasters, followed by deadly viruses and an eventual invasion to eliminate the humans; which most aliens seem to be keen on doing in film these days.
The plot remains rather tense in the beginning, leaving viewers to wonder who will die, who is evil and how the aliens will attack.
Enter Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey) as Ben Parish. Recruited by the military to fight back against the invasion, he leads an army of youngsters both in terms of acting and plot-wise. Ben is essentially the counter to Cassie in a movie full of juxtaposition and his maturity is certainly felt on-screen in a movie with more than a few child actors.
Unfortunately, neither of the stellar performances from Moretz or Robinson can save the pace or plot of The 5th Wave.
For the purpose of this review, try to forgive all of the faults that we see in most movies of this genre which The 5th Wave is guilty of: characters being strangely well groomed, an obvious and hopeful set-up for sequels and not showing the aliens.
While District 9 had a lot of politics, at least the grotesque beings were ever-present.
Independence Day was as '90s as it gets, but at least Will Smith punches an alien right in it's stupid, mind-controlling face. The 5th Wave wants you to question what the aliens are like, but executes like a poorly driven drag race; fast out of the gates only to send a fiery mass down the track for the rest of the duration.
Directed by J Blakeson (The Descent: Part 2), this film has the potential to have a massive scope but seems to either have been poorly edited or rushed. The first mistake (besides hiring a person who goes by J) is misuse or (lack of use) of two of the strongest male actors a movie can have; Liev Schreiber (Goon, X-Men Origins) and Ron Livingston (Sex and the City, Band of Brothers). Both are limited to snippets of dialogue likely totalling somewhere around 20 minutes of screen time each. Directorally, it would have been smarter to have them on-screen as much as possible to deter the mind from the performances of their average but youthful co-stars. However, this was likely an attempt to build the younger performers up for future installments.
Moretz is one of those fresh faces who shows promise of a lengthy career, but is not enough to save the movie.
What kills the film really seems to be poor oversight. As mentioned earlier, it's fairly gripping from the onset, but slowly turns from thrilling science fiction into teenage romance not unlike something you would find in Hunger Games or (insert vampire-sex movie here).
The inconsistency of the military base is rampant. Prompting questions such as "Why are people allowed to run around freely with barely any interactions?"
As well, for some reason a simple line of advice from one character seems to make all the others perfect their shooting aim. Despite lengthy combat training from the armed forces, a teenage girl telling others the most generic advice turns everything around.
While surely some faults in logic can be blamed on the transition of book-to-movie, The 5th Wave clearly crashed into the banks and faultered on its own.
The poor exchanges had the audience laughing at parts that clearly were not intended to convey humour, and an even worse (and obvious) set-up for potential sequels felt more like the movie should have just been 20 minutes longer to tie up loose ends instead of begging movie-goers to come back and pay to see what happens to "Sexy teenager #4".
Unless a cult following picks this movie up, expect a short-lived release.