Over the course of three acclaimed features director Jeff Nichols has established himself as a stylish chronicler of fevered American delirium, and his fourth feature finds him adding a supernatural element to another story of dangerous fanaticism. Roy (Michael Shannon) and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are two men whose lives have been turned over in the service to Roy’s son Alton, an eight-year-old boy with mysterious powers. On the run from both the Texan cult from which they’ve fled, and the keenly interested FBI, they offer round-the-clock protection and willingness to flee at a moment’s notice.
As they make their way across the country, meeting up with the boy’s long-lost mother (Kirsten Dunst) along the way, Alton’s strange out-of-body experiences become ever more dangerous to those trying to protect him. Nichols effortlessly moves up a gear in both budget and stature with this intelligent science fiction, which establishes his newfound skill with special effects set-pieces alongside his previously proven proficiency for offbeat drama and intense performances. While the redoubtable Michael Shannon is as compelling as ever, Midnight Special is more of an ensemble piece than Nichols’ previous works, boasting a range of fine performances including Adam Driver as an FBI investigator. Combining the imaginative credibility of the best US indie work with the adrenaline excitement of genre cinema, Midnight Special is a richly rewarding ride.