The 5th Wave review: This hollow sci-fi action flick is a weak emulation of The Hunger Games

Melissa York
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Chloe Grace Moretz as gun-toting Cassie in The 5th Wave

Dir. J Blakeson | ★★☆☆☆

Chloe Grace Moretz made her name as Hit Girl, the sweary child assassin in Kick-Ass, who was just as comfortable dropping c-bombs as she was dropping actual bombs. Now, she’s old enough to be getting her nun-chucks into some bad-ass lady roles, but instead she’s stuck with soppy teenagers like Cassie in The 5th Wave. Maybe it’s the scarcity of decent parts for women in Hollywood, or maybe they’re just all sent to Jennifer Lawrence.

Either way, it looks promising from the opening scene – in which a dirt-encrusted Cassie kills a man – but goes downhill from there. These aliens have arrived, you see, and they seem to be familiar with the Old Testament because they unleash a series of plagues – sorry, waves – on the world’s populace, so they can wipe us all out and steal our water or something. It’s never really explained.

So Cassie is forced to put away her smartphone – there’s actually a scene where she looks sadly at a blank Sony Xperia, then puts it in a box – and her dad gives her a gun instead. Then she finds herself separated from her baby brother, who’s seemingly been drafted into the US Army at the ripe old age of 10, and she sets out to rescue him from their clutches before he’s killed in an other-worldy war.

Comparisons will be made with fellow teen blockbuster The Hunger Games, but this falls far short. Every shade of the teenage experience is lightly sketched – angry emo, boy next door, unfathomable hunk – but there’s no warmth or intelligence to elevate this above a made-for-TV sci-fi flick.

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