Story

In The 5th Wave, when aliens invade earth and kill most of the population in four deadly attack waves, Cassie (Chloe Moretz) must learn how to survive on her own. Cassie is separated from her family and she is desperate to reunite with her younger brother Sam (Zackary Arthur). When the aliens injure Cassie, Evan (Alex Roe) nurses her back to health and agrees to help her find Sam. But when the aliens look the same as the humans, who can Cassie trust as she prepares for the lethal 5th wave?

Themes

Natural disasters; end of the world; children as victims; death of a parent; aliens

Violence

There is some violence in The 5th Wave. For example:

  • Guns and other weapons feature prominently throughout the movie. Both adults and young children use guns to kill people. For example, Cassie shoots an innocent man in the chest and kills him.
  • The army massacres the adults in a refugee village. Cassie discovers the dead bodies and finds her dead father.
  • The army shows Ben a young boy with an alien parasite in his brain. Ben is forced to kill the boy to prove himself.
  • Many of the characters are involved in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Teenage soldiers are sent on a mission to kill humans who they believe to have been infected with an alien parasite. There is a lot of gunfire and a young boy is shot and killed in the war. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The 5th Wave has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Children as young as five are taken from their families and forced to train as soldiers and kill people with guns. The scenes when children are training in the army and forced into the war could be scary for children in this age group.
  • A scary space ship appears in the sky. Aliens start taking over the world and inhabiting the bodies of humans. 
  • In the first wave, all electricity stops working, cars crash into each other and planes fall out of the sky. 
  • In the second wave, there are world-wide earthquakes and tsunamis that kill billions of people. These scenes are very frightening as they show people drowning and running for their lives.
  • The third wave is a deadly avian flu. The film shows piles of dead bodies being put into body bags and people getting sick.
  • Cassie’s mother and father both die and these are very emotional scenes. 
  • Cassie gets separated from her younger brother Sam, and he is left all alone. This may be frightening for young children. 
  • Cassie is shot in the leg and it looks like she might die. There is also a lot of bleeding.
  • The kids decide to blow up a bus to escape the gun fire. Evan also blows up the army compound.
  • Some of the teenage soldiers remove the tracking devices from their necks with a knife. There is some blood.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be scared or disturbed by the violent and scary scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to be scared or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Some children in this age group might also be scared or disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

The 5th Wave has some sexual references. For example:

  • Cassie and her friend talk about boy and girl parts ‘going together’. They also talk about having ‘end-of-the-world’ sex.
  • A teenage boy suggests playing strip poker with a girl.
  • Cassie flirts with both Ben and Evan.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The 5th Wave has some use of substances. For example:

  • Teenagers drink alcohol at a party.
  • Cassie steps on a cigarette.

Nudity and sexual activity

The 5th Wave has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Cassie and Evan kiss and it is suggested that they had sex but this is not shown.
  • Evan is shown half naked in the lake and Cassie stares at him.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in The 5th Wave

Ideas to discuss with your children

The 5th Wave is a confronting but exhilarating action movie that examines what it means to be human. It isn’t recommended for viewers under 14 years because of its disturbing themes and scary and violent scenes. If you have younger children, you might also be concerned by the coarse language in this movie.
The main message from this movie is that hope makes us human.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include resilience, positivity and kindness.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of independent thought and not blindly following orders if you believe the orders are morally wrong.