The Darkest Minds, 2018.
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson.
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Bradley Whitford, Harris Dickinson, and Patrick Gibson.
After a disease wipes out 98% of the world’s children those that remain have incredible gifts they must learn to control them in order to save themselves.
The Darkest Minds marks off a lot of the components that are seemingly essential in today’s teen-targeted market of movie.
We get the big event that causes a radical societal change, in this case a disease IAAN (which doesn’t quite roll of the tongue) killing many and leaving the remainder with a variety of powers. This leads them to be put into concentration camps by the adult population, separated into groups based on their abilities with Red and Orange being terminated on discovery. SO we have the pot-apocalyptic world and we have the categorisation, all we need now is our rag tag bunch of survivors who just want normal lives.
Our main survivor is Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) who as an Orange should have been killed but she uses her mind-control to pass as only a Green (super-smart and not generally dangerous) for several years until she is uncovered. She is broken out by a doctor (Mandy Moore) who is working with an anti-Government group hoping to use the powers of the kids to fight them. She quickly meets up with 3 other kids who wish to make their way to a place where the kids are in charge and can live in supposed peace.
The film unfortunately fails to land any emotion or consequence of major significance, feeling more sequential than that the characters actions are driving them towards some sort of eventual goal. When it seems like the group will be dealing with a Bounty Hunter (Gwendoline Christine) they just kick the tires on the whole thing and this suddenly no longer an issue. Characters motiviations are unclear, making the whole plot feel muddled and this means that big reveals or moments that should be of major significance don’t have the weight that they could do. There’s a moment where one character attempts to sexually assault another and says they will make them forget it with their ability which should be a hugely significant moment, though it just felt lazy and provocative for no reason than to be provocative.
Fortunately the relationships that are fostered between the main group of kids feels genuine and contains the films best moments. The relationship between Ruby and Liam (Harris Dickinson) feels natural and their budding romance lends most of the emotional weight to proceedings. Unfortunately this good-will gets thrown away with them spending most of the finale just getting ready for a sequel where it seems some sort of revolution will happen, which honestly doesn’t feel deserved.
It’s a shame that this has IP has been handled this way, it is a genuinely interesting world that I would have liked to see more of and understood, plus the work of the four main kids could have made this something of a Young X-Men/Hunger Games franchise. Instead we got a confused, straight forward film which will not be likely to leave many people wanting more.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Matt Spencer-Skeen – Follow me on Twitter