Colm McCarthy’s adaptation of Mike Carey’s novel suffers from some of the same problems we see in other well-meaning but overstuffed book-to-film adaptations, like “Angela’s Ashes” and “Arrival.” Primarily, even though I haven’t read the novel I can see that things are rushed here: There’s plenty of room for potent character development based on the narrative’s circumstances, but the movie speeds through a lot of it, and the plot gets going before the audience is particularly attached to the characters or the storyline. It seems that, in attempting to deliver a faithful adaptation, director McCarthy made the classic mistake of trying to include too much of the novel, and a result not many of the movie’s segments or characters register much because the narrative never stops to take a breath (although a tense sequence in a grocery store comes close to brilliant). In the lead role, young Sennia Nanua is extraordinary, managing to radiate both intelligence and resourcefulness through a combination of hyper-alert body language and unyielding focus, and while she’s well supported by the always-excellent Paddy Considine, everyone else is wasted (particularly Glenn Close, who seems rather miscast). So while it’s not a disaster by any means, it mostly feels like a missed opportunity thanks to its surface-level approach but there are enough strengths to consider at least one watch for genre fans.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)