Film Review: The 5th Wave

by Ali Robinson

Rated M. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston. Directed by J Blakeson.

Why is it that teenagers are always the ones left to defend the world?

Adapted from teen writer Rick Yancey’s 2013 book of the same name, The 5th Wave follows Cassie Sullivan (Moretz) attempting to reunite with little brother Sam (Arthur) in the midst of a devastating alien invasion.

The Others – an unnamed alien race – have parked their ship in the airspace above Ohio and are seeking to inhabit Earth, sans humans. So far they have inflicted four waves of attacks in order to eliminate the human race, which for me genuinely felt like a highlights reel of my personal nightmares: planes falling from the sky, water rushing into confined spaces, and a mystery contagious disease killing every second person. All this in addition to a permanent mobile phone reception outage – certainly a nightmare for many teen viewers.

And this is definitely a teen movie. As Cassie begins to navigate her way through dangerous enemy territory, she reflects on her simple pre-invasion teen life of cute boys, amazing hair, and a perfect nuclear family. In the warzone, Cassie is accompanied by heartthrob Evan (Roe), and her perfect hair continues to amaze. But despite these teen movie hallmarks, there is some nice depth to the movie. Cassie strives to retain her innocence while also being forced to fight violently for her freedom, reminding me a little of the character Ellie Linton from Tomorrow When the War Began.

In the past few years I’ve quite enjoyed Divergent and Ender’s Game, but the teen game was a little too strong in The 5th Wave. Despite Moretz’ good performance, the dialogue was cringe-worthy at times and a couple of plot twists could be spotted a way off. Overall I did like the simplicity of the plotline – at the heart of it, the story was just a girl trying to get back to her little brother.

“How do you rid the world of humans? First, you rid the humans of their humanity.”

Cassie says the aliens are attempting to wipe out the human race by turning the few survivors into emotionless, merciless beings. The 5th Wave really highlights and cherishes human character, showing that qualities of mercy, feeling, and love stand in stark contrast to the cold, ruthless alien invaders.

Watching this movie, I was reminded that God has indeed given us the blessing of emotions like love, kindness, and mercy. And more than that, he has shown that he is the God of love and mercy and kindness. God revealed his heart for us by sacrificing his own son Jesus in our place, that we might live. 1 John 3:16 says:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

The 5th Wave is a neat story of love and humanity, but pales in comparison to the love on display in the Bible. If you don’t mind yourself an end-of-the-world teen movie, The 5th Wave could be a great way to start a conversation about humanity, love, and God with your friends.

The Verdict: The 5th Wave is a bit Divergent, a bit Ender’s Game, and a bit Tomorrow When the War Began, but is a little too teen-theme heavy to be my favourite in this genre. 3/5

The 5th Wave is screening now in Australian cinemas, and will release in the US and UK on January 22nd.

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