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May 11, 2016

The 5th Wave

by Franz Patrick


5th Wave, The (2016)
★ / ★★★★

“Love’s not a trick. It’s real. I know because of you.”

Groan-inducing down to its marrow, “The 5th Wave,” directed by J Blakeson and based upon the novel by Rick Yancey, is the worst kind of dystopian film: The script is not only superficial, bland, and predictable, but at the centerpiece is a forced romance in which the performers suffer a shortage of chemistry. Although the first twenty minutes promises material that might hint at a universe that is worth exploring, it begins to fall apart the moment our heroine, Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz), meets a handsome stranger (Alex Roe).

The first four Waves are engaging because they are increasingly terrifying. I enjoyed that they, shown within the first third of the picture, vary in terms of execution. A few of them are driven by visual and special effects—like massive earthquakes, floods, and tidal waves—while others rely on something as common as a viral infection. It is most disappointing then that the Fifth Wave is as dull as tap water. The writing fails to spin it in an interesting way.

Equally boring are the would-be exciting action sequences that might as well been ripped off from another monotonous shoot-‘em-up flick in order to have saved some of the budget. There is an outstanding lack of imagination when only guns are used as weapons especially during moments of desperation to survive. For instance, there is an extended scene where a group of children, trained by the military (Liev Schreiber), are assigned to execute aliens that appear to look like humans in a decrepit compound.

The approach is so glossy, so militarized, so standard that no tension is built. Notice how everything looks so dark and yet the camera moves so quickly. We can hardly see a thing. There is no joy put into the craft. In addition, never mind the fact that we know close to nothing about the young people, aside from Cassie’s high school crush named Ben (Nick Robinson), that have been forced to risk their lives. Why should we care about any of them when do not know who they are and what they are fighting for?

Many of the emotions come across as disingenuous. The romance between Cassie and Evan is very reminiscent of the “Twilight” series because whenever the two are in the same frame, are conversing with one another, or are looking into each other’s eyes, it comes across as though they had lost twenty I.Q. points only to become marginally intelligent when they are reminded of the big picture. I could not help but guffaw during some of the exchanges because the lines are so cheesy and elementary. Erotic novels contain more convincing lines compared to the so-called romantic interest here.

Written by Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, and Jeff Pinkner, “The 5th Wave” commits the egregious error of not establishing a complex but convincing character development so that the viewers feel invested into those undergoing a specific plight and thus getting us excited for the next installments. Just about everything here is mere decoration.

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