The 5th Wave is the latest attempt by Hollywood in starting a young adult franchise. The film tells the story of Cassie Sullivan played by Chloe Grace Moretz as aliens known as ‘The Others’ invade the planet over 5 waves, hence the title.
Based on the poplar novel written by Rick Yancey, the film see’s Cassie trying to reach a military base to find her younger brother Sammy played by Zackary Arthur who is being enlisted into an army along with Ben Parish AKA Zombie played by Nick Robinson to fight ‘The Others’.
The 5th Wave’s biggest flaw is its lack of identity, it tries too hard to emulate young adult franchises that have come before rather than be a film that stands on its own. Its full of scenes and even dialogue lifted right out of films such as the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight and even some scenes right out of Independence Day.
These elements aside the film starts quite strongly and the first act is the best part of the whole film as it tells the story of the invasion, full of exposition about how the aliens invaded the planet over 4 waves, leading up to the present as the rest of the film tells the story of the 5th.
Moretz is fine as Cassie, but isn’t really given much to work with, the character isn’t really fleshed out enough to be likable, and a lot of her relationships with other characters felt forced.
Ron Livingston who play’s Cassie’s father was great in the scenes he was in. It’s unfortunate he’s not in the film more, as his scenes with Moretz are standouts, particularly the brief scene where they are discussing why ‘The Others’ want to invade.
Unfortunately after the first act the film takes a nose-dive, Cassie meets Evan Walker played by Alex Roe and the two of them begin a romance that felt forced and killed the momentum of the movie dead and it never really recovered after that.
The film suffers from pacing issues. After the first act moved at a decent fast pace it slows almost to a stand-still in the second act, with not a lot happening trying to focus on the characters and it was in these scene the quality of the script showed, full of bad dialogue and predictable clichéd plot twists.
One of the more interesting characters in the film was that of Colonel Vosch played by Liev Shreiber. He stole every scene he was in but much like Moretz with Cassie, he wasn’t really given much to work with. His scenes with Robinson were one of the few that really worked, largely because of Schreiber’s great screen presence and delivery. It would be interesting where they would take this character next should this film get a sequel.
The 5th Wave is mostly a lazy attempt at starting a new franchise. The film leans too heavily on YA franchises that have come before it, rather than presenting something new. And despite a strong cast and premise, the film is bogged down by poor pacing, bad dialogue and predictable plot twists.
By Simon Hanson