The 5th Wave is one of those movies where originality goes to die. Every minute that passes by, you’re reminded of another movie or show it’s clearly ripping off. The only thing that gives J Blakeson’s film something resembling an identity is its leading lady. Chloë Grace Moretz is such a wonderful young actress. She’s done great work in the past and will continue to do great work in the future, but hopefully The 6th Wave isn’t on her horizon. As hard as Moretz tries here, there’s nothing she can do to salvage an inspired script that feels like every other young adult movie meets every other disaster movie meets every other post-apocalyptic movie.
Moretz stars as Cassie Sullivan, a Katniss Everdeen wannabe who lives a normal life with her family. Then everything changes when aliens invade earth. Stealing a page from Lost, people refer to the unseen aliens as the Others. At first, the Others just linger around in their alien mothership, which looks an awful lot like the one from District 9. Eventually, however, the Others cause five epidemics that hit the whole world hard.
First, they turn off all the electricity on the planet, just like in Revolution. Second, they cause a global flood, just like in The Day After Tomorrow or 2012. Third, they cause a fatal virus outbreak, just like in countless zombie flicks. Fourth, they start taking over people’s minds, just like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As for the fifth wave, that’s where things actually start to get kind of interesting. By then, however, the audience has been forced to endure so many recycled plot points that they really don’t care.
If you think the clichés stop there, guess again. As the world comes to an end, the orphaned Cassie is separated from her little brother, who is basically just a male version of Primrose Everdeen. While searching for her sibling, our heroine comes across a mysterious stranger named Evan Walker (Alex Rose). Even though Evan looks like he’s twenty years older than Cassie, they naturally hook up. Since a film like this needs a love triangle, Nick Robin is also thrown in there as Ben Parish. He’s recruited by Liev Schreiber’s Colonel Vosch to take the Others out. Of course if Divergent and The Maze Runner have taught us anything, it’s that the big, bad military can never be trusted.
Based on a novel by Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave is supposed to be the first entry in a trilogy. The film so obviously wants to be the next Hunger Games or the next Twilight. What it doesn’t want to be is something bold and unique. All it does is feed us the same old stories we’ve seen a million times before without adding anything new. Along the way, we also get some horrible CGI effects and lazy narration. Since some people don’t mind repetition, maybe The 5th Wave will be a hit and spawn a cinematic franchise. Ideally, though, it’ll simply be forgotten along with I Am Number Four and Beautiful Creatures.