Once every few years, the trend of action films changes in Hollywood; there was a time when one-man-army films were popular and they were replaced by wizardry. Sadly, the era in which The Darkest Minds is released is still searching for its identity and that shows onscreen. This supposedly thrilling Young Adult (YA) adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s novel is neither sorcery nor full-throttle action and comes out as a messy film instead of a dark one. It takes so much time to establish the characters that you don’t feel enthusiastic about the sequel (yes, there is one!) when you exit the theatre.
In an undisclosed future, where 90% of under-18 children begin to die without any reason, Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) survives but in turn gets powers that shouldn’t have been there. She is labeled the most lethal by the doctors but stays under the radar using her powers. When she finally manages to escape the camp, she meets a group of ‘super friends’ who take shelter in a resistance camp where they meet like-minded people, who decide to take matters in their own hands and fight back against the mistreatment they received at the hands of the government.
The performances of all the actors here is good but it doesn’t seem like something that you haven’t seen before – Amandla Sternberg plays Ruby and makes you realize that she is suffering due to her powers; she may not be as good as Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games) or Shailene Woodley (Divergent) but in the next sequel, she might have a meatier role. Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, and Miya Cech play the super-powered friends who will play an important role in the next film but they seem more inspired by YA adaptations than the novels. The director Jennifer Yuh Nelson tries her best to make the film visually appealing and the action sequences gripping and that’s the film’s biggest strength.
On one hand, the film is appealing visually, on the other it looks like something that you have seen before. It’s like the combination of Sci-Fi films like X Men and YA adaptations like Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, The Giver that have revolved around the injustice of the governments with one person making the difference and winning. Then there is the Harry Potter element as well and by the time the film ends, hinting at a sequel, the audience is so pissed that they make up their minds that only if the trailer is appealing, they will watch the following flicks.
The Verdict 2/5
The Darkest Minds is one of those films that look good in the trailer, only to disappoint you when released. The narrative was so slow that when the twist actually happens, you feel like slow clapping as a tribute to the pace of the film. Usually, YA adaptations are fast-paced because in the future people are shown more busy and cruel but here not even the ‘six years later’ was helpful. With Mission Impossible: Fallout still in theatres, The Darkest Minds is likely to fade away just like Ruby’s character whose parents didn’t recognize her after she gained powers and abilities far beyond those of mortals.