- 17 Aug 18
Dystopian young adult film fails to connect despite its relevant theme of youth resistance.
No matter what kind of fantastical world we imagine for tweens and teens, we just can’t stop sorting them into groups and endangering their lives. From Abnegations to Hufflepuffs, the Scorch Trials to the Hunger Games, we’ll seemingly never tire of dividing up these young wans, imbuing them with power, then making sure all the adults around them try and murder them for it.
In The Darkest Minds, an adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s novel, a mysterious illness wipes out half the child population and imbues the rest with superpowers. Rounded up by the government, these mutant children vary in strength and are sorted into colour-coded groups; those that are useful, and those who must be destroyed. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is an Orange, capable of total mind control and due to be killed, but she escapes and teams up with a ragtag group of kids searching for a safe zone.
Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson eschews excessive world-building in favour of characterisation, particularly of Ruby and her obligatory two suitors (The O.A.’s Patrick Gibson and Beach Rats’ Harris Dickinson). The performances are fine, and the inoffensive pop soundtrack is as accessible (read: generic) as the characters’ slang-ridden speech. But the plotting is clumsy, underwriting supporting characters and rushing pivotal moments.