If you were to count the number of book-to-screen young adult stories that dabble in doom-n-gloom-n-love-n-hope, then The 5th Wave is more like the 20th from the past decade. With The Hunger Games completed and both Maze Runner and Divergent midway through their sagas, this alien invasion tale needs to do a lot to stand out. Unfortunately, the only outstanding thing the film’s got is Chloë Moretz.
She delivers everything she’s got as Cassie Sullivan, a teen who survives an alien onslaught that wipes out most of the planet including her friends and family. Moretz sells the devastation, as do the scenes with the electrical outages (Wave One), natural disasters (Two), fatal diseases (Three), and body-snatching invaders (Four). That’s a lot to convey in the first act, and the pace pumps a lot of good energy into this set-up.
But that charge goes nowhere when the film haphazardly introduces a child-army side-plot, following a character nicknamed Zombie whom we hardly get to know (aside from being Cassie’s sort-of crush). At the same time, Cassie gets cosy with Evan Walker played by a charisma-less sponge with dreamy eyes and a six pack who gets his romance advice from the Edward Cullen School of Stalking Your True Love.
If your eyes aren’t on auto-roll at this point, perhaps they’ll be too keenly focused on what the actual fifth wave ends up being. Following on from four simple and effective waves of killing, the fifth plan seems weirdly complicated and unproductive for supposedly higher lifeforms to even consider on a practical level.
‘The 5th Wave’ Movie Times
Maybe Try: Beautiful Creatures, The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game