Review – The 5th Wave

Poster for 2016 young adult action movie The 5th Wave

Genre: Action
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 22nd January 2016
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: J Blakeson
Writer: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber, Zackary Arthur, Tony Revolori
Synopsis: A young girl finds herself alone in the wilderness when an alien invasion separates her from her family.



Harry Potter ended long ago. So did Twilight. The curtain just fell on The Hunger Games. For the first time in more than a decade, there is no franchise sitting atop the young adult mountain. The latest pretender to the crown is The 5th Wave, which has been rather unceremoniously dumped into cinemas whilst everyone is looking at the Oscars contenders. It’s easy to see why.

Note: If you’re really sensitive to plot spoilers, perhaps give this review a miss.

Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a normal high-schooler, going to parties and crushing on classmate Ben (Nick Robinson), right up until a bizarre alien invasion changes her world. She is soon torn away from her family and is forced to survive alone, until she meets Evan (Alex Roe). Meanwhile, Ben finds himself under the command of Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) as part of a child army taking on the aliens.

It would be easy to rip The 5th Wave apart as a lazy attempt to capitalise on the popularity of YA cinema. However, it’s not at all a bad film. It’s simply the slightly uncool kid who arrived a few years too late to the party and no one had told it that the dress code was a family-friendly 12A certificate. The 5th Wave is a slightly unusual film that never gets the chance for its intriguing parts to gel together into an impressive whole.

| “I didn’t know it then, but that was the last normal day of my life.”

At the centre of the action is Chloe Grace Moretz, in a role that probably seemed like her ticket to the big time when she signed on the dotted line. She certainly throws herself at it with enthusiasm, finding surprising depth in a character that is written in the most clichéd terms imaginable. There’s also no Katniss Everdeen to be found when Moretz’z character falls incompetently into the arms of Alex Roe’s dashing, but bland, outdoorsman.

Meanwhile, Nick Robinson, a far cry from his excellent work in the underseen The Kings of Summer, is saddled with a secondary plot in which everyone but the characters can see the big twist coming. Liev Schreiber’s sneering villainy isn’t even concealed – we’ve all seen enough young adult films to know that the one adult actor with a recognisable face is always a bad guy. Robinson does, however, get to share some spicy chemistry with It Follows star Maika Monroe, who is by far the best thing about The 5th Wave.

There’s a novel idea at the heart of The 5th Wave, but it all comes across as more than a little contrived. Plot turns are either utterly nonsensical or telegraphed way in advance. By the time all of the central characters converge in the third act of the movie, it’s all become just a little too convenient – from the bleak universe to the shoe-horned love triangle.

| “The Others took my brother and I’m gonna go get him.”

It would be wrong to dismiss The 5th Wave as a cheap cash-in because it’s a much more interesting movie than that, thanks largely to Moretz’s solid performance. The 15 rating and subdued release betrays a studio with absolutely no confidence in the product. Even they could tell that they’d missed the boat.


Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

Chloe Moretz doesn’t quite find her Katniss in The 5th Wave, which is a fairly contrived and poorly written addition to the rapidly expanding young adult canon. The twist is obvious from a mile away and the plotting is wafer-thin, but there’s something to it at its heart that, five years ago, might have been enough.


Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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