The Fifth Wave


The movie “The Fifth Wave” is based on the attractive, if overly familiar, sci-fi premise of an invasion by aliens who want earth’s living space and in consequence must eliminate humanity.   The entire drama revolves around the trials and tribulations of a young and attractive heroine as successive waves of ever more effective but remotely-controlled and unheralded destruction sweep across the globe.   Personal tragedy follows personal tragedy with a plodding thoroughness.  But these difficulties are logically well-developed and occasionally gift us with surprising if somewhat understated special effects.


What is notably lacking is an emotional sense of the havoc wreaked on wider society or any visceral fear of the aliens themselves.   The head-honcho alien on earth, as well as the traitorous alien who falls for the heroine and decides to help humanity, are an expressionless lot fresh from the better looking half of central casting but completely devoid of any non-human menace.


The greatest failure however is the story line.  The human survivors do not seem to have any plan for survival nor do they seem to have any hope of gaining an advantage.  Nor do any heroes or heroines mature under pressure but rather stumble from predicament to predicament saving themselves with purely knee-jerk reflexes and a grace borne of youth.  In this sense they seem as clueless as the aliens who are apparently resigned to a persistent and unimaginative war of grudging attrition.   Rather everyone’s chief concern seems to be the social angst common to adolescent high school romances but extended this time over inter-galactic distances.   As a result the “non-ending” end of the movie leaves one thoroughly unsatisfied.


On the other hand, production qualities are first rate, the action seamless, and the acting more than acceptable, with perhaps the exception of a few deadpan, if not otherwise attractive, aliens who the movie reluctantly attempts to imbue with distinct personalities.   That is not to say that the movie doesn’t have fun parts; but all in all I could not strongly recommend it.