The 5th Wave, 2016.
Directed by J. Blakeson.
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Nick Robinson, Maria Bello, Ron Livingston, Zackary Arthur, Maggie Siff, Alex Roe and Maika Monroe.
In The 5th Wave, set in the present day, four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, 16-year-old Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal 5th wave, Cassie meets a young man who may become her final hope.
Telegraphing your twist is one thing if it can still be pulled off with dramatic execution, but The 5th Wave is pretty much an exercise in indifference and boredom. I am admittedly not the kind of viewer that destroys their brain trying to predict the big reveal so I can feel smarter and superior than everyone else, but it’s right… freaking… there in the first 20 minutes of the movie. How anyone can miss it is something I’ll never understand. Maybe this is the first time they are watching a movie.
As a whole, the writing of The 5th Wave is atrocious and the stuff of nightmares. Things open up with Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) running through the forest with an assault rifle delivering monotone narrations regarding how she’s become a killer to survive in an apocalyptic world inhabited by aliens disguised as humans, and very briefly, there is a feeling that she could wind up an interesting character going through some struggles that has to overcome many obstacles.
Then the movie flashes back to the beginning, showing about two minutes of her normal life before dropping onto us an alien invasion complete with the first four waves of destruction within about 15 minutes. Some horrendously CGI looking UFO appears, tsunamis hit (including an absolutely preposterous scene where Cassie and her little brother hide in a tree for safety while entire buildings are decimated on impact), a virus wipes out millions of people, and before you know it, everyone is living without power in the forest. It just flies by so fast that there is no reason to care about anything happening. Yes, I realize the movie is centered on the fifth wave, but that’s not an excuse to be lazy and go from point A to B at light-speed.
Get this though, the entire movie essentially revolves around Cassie trying to make her way back to her brother after being separated. That’s a cause people could get behind, until you realize that the only reason they are separated is because of her own stupidity to leave a bus about to embark on the road, just to get a stuffed animal that the kid apparently can’t live without, even in these dire times. Of course, their separation is necessary to push the plot forward, but again, the execution of the separation is lazy and amateurish. It does nothing to make you care.
By roughly 45 minutes in, we reach the moment the movie opened at and realize that we still can’t empathize with Cassie’s plight. Moretz just isn’t very convincing in the role (her narration is flat, attempts at drama and emotion come across hollow, and she’s horrible at portraying physical pain). Most disappointingly, she inevitably becomes yet another young adult teenage girl living in a dystopia torn between two attractive men; a high-school crush, and a farm boy she befriends after getting wounded.
I would love to say that the movie is slightly more entertaining for the other half, which is primarily focused on children getting round-up by the military to face The Others, but you’re just left frustrated that all of the characters are oblivious to what is really going on. When the twist is finally revealed, it’s not long before the movie comes to a conclusion, but here’s the thing, this is a trilogy that probably won’t continue. The 5th Wave is terribly written, boring, and doesn’t deserve a sequel.
Even the mythology makes no sense, with one alien/Other showcasing acrobatic and extreme feats of strength, while the main villain of the movie is just a normal person seemingly special in no way. There are also some really annoying characters (a female soldier that basically takes feminism to obnoxious lengths because the writers have no idea how to properly define a strong female character like say, Katniss), and out-of-place video game reminiscent effects to highlight who isn’t human.
In other words, The 5th Wave will not be the franchise to replace The Hunger Games, or even Divergent. The young adult sub-genre might finally be dying out if nothing comes along within the next year or so to re-spark that interest. Honestly, I don’t think the problem lies with the novels themselves, but the fact that Hollywood and most filmmakers now feel that because one thing became a massive success, all of them are automatically highly lucrative. They’re forgetting all about quality as dollar bills blind their eyesight.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★