Riffing on John Carpenter's Starman (1984), writer-director Jeff Nichols has crafted a sci-fi chase film whose gravely naturalistic style adds to its sense of portent. A father (Michael Shannon) has kidnapped his young son (Jaeden Lieberher) from an apocalyptic Christian sect that wants to exploit the boy's telekinetic powers; tearing across the interstate, father and son are pursued by two thugs answering to the sect's ruthless spiritual leader (Sam Shepard) and by an NSA brainiac (Adam Driver) who wants to study the boy. Nichols plunges right into the story, which is delectably murky at first, but this is one of those movies that seems more pedestrian the more you figure out what's going on. Given the diminishing pace of the last hour, I couldn't help but wonder why Nichols didn't do more with the religious angle, though a head-tilting celestial finale adds some last-minute grandeur. With Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Bill Camp.
By J.R. Jones