I wouldn’t say I had expectations for The Darkest Minds, based on a 2012 novel by Alexandra Bracken, but I did expect it to be better than it was. This movie was unfortunately very average.
The story centers around 16-year-old Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg). When she was 10, a mysterious disease overtook American children, killing the majority. Those who survived developed X-Men-like powers, such as telekinesis.
The government, terrified of something they couldn’t control, ordered all these children to be sent to brutal work camps. After some quick and confusing plotting, Ruby escapes from her camp and finds herself on the run with a group of kids who also escaped from another camp. Together, they try to find the elusive East River, a supposed place where they can be safe with other children like them.
I had good feelings about this movie up until Ruby first escapes the camp, with the help of a doctor named Katie, played by Mandy Moore. There was something off about the scene. It’s a little too quick, too confusing. Unfortunately, this kind of scene kept popping up sporadically throughout the rest of the film. The plot would be plodding along, and then something would quickly happen with little information and stakes to back the serious nature of the scene. For example, kids who are on the run from the government, are you sure you should be faffing around for several hours in a mall? Shouldn’t you, you know, be getting your supplies and hitting the road as soon as possible? No? Okay, playing dress-up with impractical clothes it is!
On the other hand, this film has a talented collection of actors. Stenberg is a joy, and the rest of her eventual group of friends hold their own, with Skylan Brooks as a standout. The moments with the four friends together were, personally, the best in the film, in particular, the scene where they picnic by the side of the road.
Ultimately, the end of this film left too many questions. Where did this disease come from? How is the president still in power after supposedly curing his superpowered-son, but in actuality failing to do so? Where is Mandy Moore for most of the film? The confusing plot left much to be desired.
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The Darkest Minds: Too little, too late6