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5th Wave, The

5/10

Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Alex Roe, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber.

Director: J Blakeson

Back in 2010 director Matthew Vaughan and his co-screenwriter Jane Goldman had then 13-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz utter the ‘C word’ in Kick-Ass 2 without anything obvious in the way of artistic justification.

Which, on reflection, is possibly a tad ironic considering that here Moretz, the teenage heroine of this science fiction action thriller, hasevery justification – and more than just a few times - to utter the ‘C word’, as she joins the fight for survival against a deadly alien invasion.

The screenplay by Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner is based on the Young Adult novel (the first of a trilogy) by Rick Yancey and clearly seeks to establish Moretz as the heroine of a continuing series in the profitable style of The Hunger Games and its ilk.

The 5th wave itself is the climactic final incident (until the sequel, I suppose) of an extraterrestrial invasion whose first wave, delivered by huge alien spaceships hovering over the earth, eliminates all power on Earth, leaviong planes and cars crashing and, possibly even worse, mobile phones that don’t work!

Prior to this, on the “last normal day” of her life, Moretz is at her typical all-American high school. By the time the lethal promised 5th wave hits, she is on the run, seen her father die and, trying to save her younger brother (Zackary Arthur), has become a “soldier” in the young person’s army commanded by Liev Schreiber, whose steely performance gives the often over predictable story a valuable metal spine…

Some splendid special effects create several visually impressive sequences, among them falling forests, New York overwhelmed by floods and Tower Bridge being swept away by a massive tidal wave. Almost inevitably, these sequences tend to overwhelm the pallid drama going on around them.

Still, I learned something from the film – there are over 300 million birds on earth and they spread a lethal virus to add to the mere alien miseries.

Will Moretz survive?

No prizes for the answer but, to give him his due, British director J Blakeson keeps things moving briskly and sensibly concentrates on Moretz and fellow juvenile lead Nick Robinson.

It’s a shame, though, that the gripping impact of the tense, tough opening sequence where we meet Moretz armed and looting a deserted store only to face possible death from a fellow survivor, is never really matched during the rest of the movie and lacks the dramatic force of Blakeson's previous picture The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2010).

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 Jan 2016