THE 5TH WAVE is the latest sneeze to hit the screen with a splat, and it offers absolutely nothing new. I can imagine teen viewers talking it up as though it were some kind of masterpiece, and I am honestly pleased that they have franchises for their generation to claim, but what they probably don't realise is that this movie is little more than a mash-up of so many films that came before it. Whether it's RED DAWN, THEY LIVE, WAR OF THE WORLDS or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (amongst others) THE 5TH WAVE takes ideas and concepts from a whole bunch of sources and mooshes them together. The result is a perplexing action-thriller that draws a fine line between being an exciting and entertaining genre film to being a contrived and heavy handed piece of fluff.
The film follows Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) as she races against time to save her younger brother, during the final stages of a systematic alien invasion. Know as “The Others” (original, huh?) the aliens circle the Earth and launch a series of strategic attacks to eradicate mankind. Of course this is where the narrative of the film becomes really clunky, because having demonstrated their control and incredible capabilities from the outset there is no reason why they couldn't just take the planet in one foul swoop. And so its logical to assume that they're considerate aliens, who are calculating their invasion precisely to enable Cassie enough time to make shit happen. Everything is too convenient and the entire middle act of the movie collapses into a long and tedious attempt to develop characters and talk a whole lot of nonsense.
The action is well handled... I'll give it that. Reminiscent THE WALKING DEAD in it's depiction of a desolate society, and the dangers that lurk, the film's handling of disaster and combat is quite impressive. A particular sequence involving coerced natural disasters is as affective as I have seen such things done before, and the military engagement sequences are loud and engaging. For a while I forgot that it was all so trite and I found myself really enjoying it. But then those moments of distraction dissolve and as if the director was clicking his fingers in your face, you snap out of it and remember what nonsense it really is.
But hey - I'm no longer part of the target audience, and while that doesn't mean that I can't still enjoy teen movies, it does mean that my thoughts on such things are irreverent. My seventeen-year-old daughter saw THE 5TH WAVE last week and she loved it... and that makes me feel like an old man.