Roy (Michael Shannon) rescues his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) from a religious cult in Texas, whose members worship the boy for his supernatural powers. Along with a state trooper named Lucas (Joel Edgerton), the pair go on a cross-country journey as they are hunted by federal agents including FBI Agent Miller (Paul Sparks) and NSA agent Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) and also members of the religious cult, who believe Alton might be a threat to national security.
I would like to start off by saying that this has nothing to do with the film itself but I am not a fan of its name as it has nothing to do with the film itself and is a little misleading (in my opinion). It didn’t mislead me though as I’ve known about this for a long time (ever since this post) and have been excited for it ever since. I’ve always believed that if you put the right cast together, it is very easy for a film to get my interest. It would be hard for most people to say no to a film that features the likes of Micheal Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Paul Sparks, Adam Driver, and also Kirsten Dunst as Alton’s mother Sarah, all people who I am fans of.
The story here is about a man named Roy (Shannon) who has rescued his son Alton (Lieberher) from a religious cult who worships the boy for his supernatural powers. Along with the help of a state trooper named Lucas (Edgerton), the trio go on a cross-country journey as they are hunted by members of the cult who want the boy back and government agents including FBI Agent Miller (Sparks) and NSA Agent Paul Sevier (Driver) who believe he may be a threat to national security.
One would think based on Alton’s supernatural powers that this would be a sci-fi film, it is but it is also much more in that it is secondary to everything else. I found that it works as a sci-fi film but this also plays as a drama, a family drama, and a chase film. Some may not like the pace of the film as it is slow at times but I did not mind this as it took the time to develop the relationship between Roy and Alton. This relationship is what drove the plot forward as it was clear to me that Roy cares deeply for Alton and wants what’s best for him. I thought this was very compelling to watch as it kept me engaged through the slower and the faster moments.
What I also liked is that the film didn’t waste any time with the story as the film starts us off right in the middle of the story. But the other side of that argument is that for as many questions it answers, it does, without giving anything away, leave some questions unanswered which may annoy the fussiest of viewers (a few annoyed me). The point of this film, however, isn’t about how they got there but is rather about how they get themselves out.
It was a just a beautiful, great journey to watch from beginning to end. This film’s style was very remarkable and visually stunning while also featuring great cinematography. The soundtrack and the John Williams-esque score both do a great job at keeping us in the moment were very impactful. You just couldn’t help but notice the influence of classic 70s and 80s sci-fi films on the style, taking us back to that era and was better for it.
The performances here were great all around. What more do I have to say about Michael Shannon? In a very subtle, multi-dimensional performance, mastering the character’s emotional state and capturing the determination involved with being a protective father. I’m not really sure why Edgerton’s character was there but he was still great here and his chemistry with Shannon worked well. Lieberher was great here as Alton, fitting in with Shannon and Edgerton and surprisingly not bringing the film down. Dunst was solid here and believable as Roy’s estranged wife and Alton’s mother. Driver was also a solid fit here and I found he calmed things down tone-wise with his presence, offering some comic relief.
Overall, this is a great, beautiful sci-fi film led by great performances and should be remembered for a long time to come.