Breaking into a new year with a new release is often a struggle after December blockbusters pouring through. January of 2016 was no exception; it was still a struggle to find something that I was drawn to. Looking over the options Chloe Moretz’s The 5th Wave won out simply because I am a fan of hers. It wasn’t a bad movie to spend the bigger bucks of a movie theater on.
Moretz first caught my eye in Kick-Ass and then The Poker House with Jennifer Lawrence. After that I caught her when streaming The Guardian where she appeared on 2 different episodes in her younger years. Her first big lead role was when she took the reins in the 2013 remake of Carrie, which wasn’t a terrible remake as far as remakes go, followed by If I Stay. Her attempts seem to have caught the eyes of director Antoine Fuqua as he gambled the lead actress role of his well-received Denzel movie, The Equalizer, on her. She’s a young actress that seems to be making an impression on the big screen, her directors, and her co-stars.
The 5th Wave starts in with Moretz’s Cassie Sullivan walking into a ransacked and abandoned gas station with a machine gun talking about missing her teen years and how she use to think life was so tough when she would get in trouble by her parents. Then she shoots a guy. She narrates the majority of the movie. What’s nice about that is that Chloe has a pleasant voice to listen to. She has the ability to act emotionally with her voice at the same level that she is able to in front of the camera.
This is a dystopia sci-fi film that offers an alien attack without ever truly showing an alien. There is a lot of violence without crossing the line into blood and gore. The explosions, gunshots, and deaths warrant a PG-13 rating without pushing the boundaries of an R-rating. Young adults could see this without concern from parents wondering if it’ll be too violent for their teens.
The movie focuses on the 5th wave of attacks from the aliens, the “Others”. In the preceding four waves of attacks, mankind faces an electro-magnetic blast, natural disasters, pestilence and possession. Millions on earth perish in these attacks, including some close to our main characters. In the fourth wave we’re given the primary vehicle for tension; The Others begin to possess the humans. We’re also given another of our star actors, Liev Schreiber as Colonel Vosch. He explains that the 4th wave has hit without anyone knowing. The 5th wave is yet to come. What is the Army’s plan to prepare for the 5th Wave? Children, of course. Children trained to be soldiers.
The movie has a nice quick flow at the beginning when we make our way through the first 3 waves. Once the movie crosses the line into the military training and preparing for battle, I feel like it breaks its flow. It doesn’t become a sleeper by any means, it just doesn’t seem as cohesive and smooth once we get to the second part of the film.
What the movie kept bringing to my thoughts was the idea, “Could I do that?” Cassie isn’t an edgy girl. She isn’t your student leader. She hasn’t been trained in combat, hunting, or even scouting methods of survival. She loves her little brother and she strives to keep him alive. She makes a promise to him, and she refuses to quit without fulfilling that promise. When she enters the gas station at the beginning, she discovers a man claiming to be injured. She feels like her only option is to shoot and kill the man. Could I do that? Her mother dies. She is present when her father dies. Her brother is taken from her. She sets off on her own to survive in the woods. Could I do that? As a Christian you then question in another way, “Should I do that?” Should I kill others to protect myself or my family? Should I kill others to protect the people?
Some Christians have claimed throughout the past several decades that Christians should never kill. My stance has been and remains being that there is a definite difference between murder and killing. Killing has been used from the beginning for the good of God’s people and even commanded in cases like Numbers 25 and Deuteronomy 17 for those that do wickedness. There are verses, of course, that some use, such as Luke 19:27 saying that Jesus condoned murder and violence, when they simply are not looking at the context, and truly are distorting God’s Word. Indeed Romans 13:4&5 gives power to government for control, protection, etc.
God would never want innocent blood shed. The sacrifice of his Son was for ALL men and he desires that all men be saved. However, when man is nothing but wicked and wicked is all their hearts desire, then there isn’t much to see as redeeming qualities.
As a person with a lifetime permit to carry I believe I could fight for my family, my community, and my God. I could never just commit murder, though. However, for me, there was a deeper thought being spun in the movie. Children simply taking the word of the adults and doing as they are told. They don’t question. They simply obey. Our society seems to become more and more “band-wagon” jumpers or believers of anything they are told. Things posted on social media that appear so obviously false will end up having thousands of people on the band wagon believing the unproven. Remember when Steven Spielberg killed a Triceratops? An absolute travesty, right? If you look only at internet reaction, you might think so.
Many times I have had similar discussions with people about God’s Word and what it says. I have had discussions about what being saved means. Discussions on the perfection of Christ. Discussions on what has been commanded and permitted by God for His Church and what has not. There are some beliefs that simply come from tradition, but people believe with everything that it can be found in God’s Word.
The children in The 5th Wave do as they are told, they kill because they are told to, and train to attack as many of the Others as they can. Then, they begin to ask questions. As Christians it is important to ask questions. Then go to the source of answers, God’s Word and see what he truly has to say about it. Trusting a man because he seems sincere and honest and knowledgeable could lead to condemnation and spiritual death without one ever being aware.
The 5th Wave isn’t a block buster. It had such an abrupt end to it that I was annoyed by it. I was pleased with the majority of the acting. However, some of the younger actors and actresses were weak, but what I have come to expect from young casts. Two major bonuses for me were the ship was well done and the natural disasters were high quality CGI.
Overall, I say it’s a decent movie. I feel like it is geared more toward young adults and teens, as the book is intended. It’s a fairly good movie that is decent in its delivery. I liked the new approach to alien invasion with more subtle violence and less gore. I would comfortably let my younger two pre-teens watch this without any restraint. The final few moments leading up to the end though just seemed to drop the ball and the movie simply ended. That lost some more points from me. It’s worth renting. I don’t feel like I wasted money on the bigger ticket; I just didn’t walk out excited about the movie.