Post-apocalypse films can be divided into two categories. There are those that feature characters who don’t seem to have seen the inside of a shower in years, like 2009’s resolutely grim The Road. And then there are those whose cast members look like they’ve visited a hair salon as recently as that morning. The latter category is the one into which this adaptation of author Rick Yancey’s trilogy-inaugurating 2013 YA novel very much falls.
Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Cassie Sullivan who, in the first—and most nerve-rending—scene shoots to death a wounded, help-seeking man. Cassie, we learn in a lengthy flashback sequence, has been transformed from keg party-attending high schooler to rifle-toting paranoiac thanks to a series of humanity-endangering, alien-induced “waves”—like a souped-up strain of avian flu and, also, actual waves. Our newly orphaned heroine is trying to to find her younger brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), who has been recruited to an army of kids set up to battle humans under the control of the face-hugger-resembling extraterrestrials infesting their respective brains. Other members of that military force—which is under the command of Liev Schreiber’s no-nonsense Colonel Vosch—include Cassie’s high school crush (Nick Robinson) and a sort of goth-Rambo, played by Maika Monroe from It Follows, who steals the show on those too-rare occasions she makes an appearance. On the way to rescue her bro, the lushly-coiffured Cassie has time to do a lot of journaling and to fall for Alex Roe’s standard issue, farm-dwelling hunk.
The frankly preposterous nature of the film’s setup is rendered slightly less so by a couple of second act reveals. But, by then, many viewers will have lost interest in a movie with a very high bodycount but a very small amount of grit, either emotional or literal. C+