It's almost more frustrating when a film draws you in from the get-go and shows real promise, only to drop the ball when it comes to the conclusion, than it is to watch a wholly middle-of-the-road flick. It's all about expectation management.

Writer-director Jeff Nichols gives us the promise of something truly spectacular here, but fails to deliver in the final act, leaving the viewer with a sense of being cheated.

Director Jeff Nichols on location with star Jaeden Lieberher

Midnight Special gets off to a great start; we're dropped right into the action and immediately there's an air of mystery, tension and intrigue that is excellently crafted. The performances are understated but powerful and the cast, while not always utilised to their full potential, are all on point. 

Understated but powerful performances

The ambiguities in this story - a boy on the run from a religious cult and a government agency - are where the movie shines. Sadly, when the reality of the situation kicks in, Midnight Special goes down a very anticlimactic route that feels like a total cop-out.

Genius at play - and on the run

For director Nichols, going from a film like Mud to a big studio sci-fi adventure is quite a leap, and while Midnight Special isn't a genre classic, he shows a lot of promise as a filmmaker. If he were to attempt a similar project in the future, I'm confident he would avoid the pitfalls and lost opportunities in this piece.

The second half lets the film down

The first hour is compelling and had the second half lived up to it, sci-fi fans would feel as though they had struck gold.

Sinead Brennan