The 5th Wave

Dull, incoherent and predictable, The 5th Wave is a futile undertaking in an already crowded genre.

Survival besieged by sentimentality in an end-of-world scenario seems to be the driving theme in an ever increasing list of young adult films. Joining that list, rather late in the race, is The 5th Wave – a save the world mishmash that feels like the retarded offspring between Independence Day and Red Dawn, but without any redeeming qualities from the parents.

Going from normal high schooler to gun-toting survivalist, Chloe Grace Moretz’s Cassie Sullivan is both the heroine and narrator of this alien invasion for the new generation. The onslaught of the invasion, as explained by Cassie, is unleashed in a series of attacks beginning with power outage (Wave 1), natural disasters (Wave 2), fatal epidemics (Wave 3), followed by parasitic possession of humans as hosts (Wave 4). The first three waves are narrated in short flashbacks, thankfully, as the special effects employed are modest, and that’s putting it politely. This leaves us, and Cassie, trying to figure out who’s really who, before we arrive at the film’s haphazardly written twist reserved as the titular Wave 5.

Part of that twist involves a group of child soldiers led by the capable Maika Monroe from last year’s sleeper hit It Follows. Monroe’s role is an interesting inclusion considering her forthcoming appearance in this year’s tent pole offering of the Independence Day sequel. Written as polar opposites, Monroe and Moretz are tasked with shouldering the story from different perspectives. While both deliver, it is the latter’s character who reminds us that this is nothing more than a YA film. Cassie’s involvement with Evan, an Edward Cullen like mystery figure, not only adds to the overall corniness, their romantic interlude weighs down the story when it is already trying to stay afloat. But even this, although expected in a YA film, is put to use in the most cringe-worthy way possible. You’ll know it when you see it.

With The Hunger Games laid to rest, and both Maze Runner and Divergent series following suit, all The 5th Wave manages to do is bring left overs to the table in an already crowed pound party. Low key and already lacking in originality, shoddy writing further adds to incoherence and chaos. If that’s not bad enough, spoon feeding the narrative dissolves what little mystery there is, resulting in a telegraphed ending. This becomes even more disappointing with the inclusion of seasoned actors like Liev Schreiber and Maria Bello whose only role is authoritative figures. But even they can’t save a film as absurd as the idea that only kids can save humanity from total annihilation. By the numbers? It sure is, and as thrilling as hearing someone count from one to five.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.