The Darkest Minds

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Darkest Minds
"What you suspect will happen almost certainly will"

How dark?

The title suggests Evil Inc introduces The Temple of Doom, a downmarket B-movie in the five gallon ketchup league. But with a 12A cert and a young audience waiting the shade of their thoughts is less important than what they do with them.

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If you collate themes from The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, The 100, Heroes, The Walking Dead and whizz them up in a blender you have The Darkest Minds, a mirror image of X-Men: The Formative Years, which was never made.

Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is abducted from home by strangers. The world, her world, has gone nuts, gripped by a deadly epidemic that attacks teenagers. Those who have immunity are rounded up, psychologically assessed and categorised by colour. If you are a green you have a high IQ and considered valuable. If you are orange you are a threat and marched off to an internment camp. Ruby is an orange but manages to escape. Later she discovers the full extent of her powers.

The film's intro is wishful wacky, which means you don't know what is going on but hope it's all right. Ruby is picked up on the road by three other runaways in a van. Trust is everything. They need each other and yet they fear each other. For a while.

Slowly you begin to understand. An autocratic government is behaving with impunity against those with special powers. Ruby and her new found friends make their way to The Compound (or whatever it's called) where they will be safe. Or so they believe. This place is run by the President's rebellious son (Patrick Gibson), a shiny blond with a line in charm that would make Holden Caulfield And The Rye Catchers sick to their stomachs.

Ruby and Liam (Harris Dickinson), who is the leader of their little group, have the hots for each other but are too shy or too afraid to follow through. Ruby has a problem with her powers, one of which is that she can take control of the mind of anyone she touches. Therefore, no kisses.

At this point the love interest gets in the way of the plot's progression just when it's taking hold. Although, to be fair, what you suspect will happen almost certainly will.

The ending is not closure, creating a feeling that this is the pilot for a TV series. If you were the commissioning editor at Netflix would you give it the green light? It depends on the characters. Do you care about them? Enough? Do you like them?

The answer on all counts should be yes.

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2018
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After a disease killed 98% of young people in the US, the 2% who managed to survive have developed superpowers, but have been locked in internment camps. One teenager escapes.

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Chad Hodge, based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech, Patrick Gibson, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford, Gwendoline Christie, Golden Brooks, Sammi Rotibi, Lidya Jewett, Wallace Langham

Year: 2018

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: United States

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