Chaos Walking Review
Disorder But No Disaster
By Liselotte Vanophem
‘Do you know what I think’ is probably one of the most asked questions there is. But what if you knew the answer to that question even before someone asked it. What if you could read everyone’s thoughts which would result in only ‘thoughtful’ conversations.
Well, that’s the idea behind director Doug Liman (“The Wall”, “Edge of Tomorrow”) his newest film, “Chaos Walking”. The movie, based on Patrick Ness’ novel “The Knife of Never Letting Go”, combined an award-winning work and many A-list stars, and while it becomes chaotic during some moments, it’s not a total disaster.
The movie opens with the young space explorer Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland), whose thoughts are always out there in the form of ultraviolet soundwaves and for anyone to hear. This “Noise” happens to every man, which is everyone, as Todd lives on a “men only” alien planet. So when the “real” woman lands on his planet in the form of Viola (Daisy Ridley), his world expands.
While she literally comes from another planet, a love story starts to blossom. However, their love is a forbidden one as Viola isn’t allowed on the planet. That leaves Todd with no choice but to help escape her from the town’s mayor (Mads Mikkelsen), his son Davy (Nick Jonas) and a noised obsessed snitch (David Oyelowo). Will Todd succeed in saving his love, or will the only woman he ever saw be the last?
If you’re not familiar with Ness’ work, it might take some time before the concept of this movie sinks in. Even more so when there are multiple characters at the same place and you have to figure out who thinks what. However, once the tempo decreases and most scenes only consist out of a handful of people at the same time, the movie becomes much more enjoyable to watch.
Visually, “Chaos Walking” looks very delightful, especially the Noise, which is being represented via a mix of rainbows, mist and slick looking projected images. The wonderful visuals are accompanied by a really clever audio design consisting of the many different voices interwoven in each other. There’re no ‘real’ conversations, so the Noise needs to be on-point both visually and sound-wise, and the team succeeds in doing that.
However, what makes this movie worth the watch are the performances from a strong (but mostly unused) cast. While his Spider-Man outfit isn’t present, Holland (“ Spider-Man: Far From Home”, “ Spider-Man Homecoming “) his performance as the socially awkward teenager rescuing the world and damsel in the destress feels very familiar. It again becomes clear that Holland excels in portray a teen like that.
Ridley (“ Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “ Star Wars: The Last Jedi “) is as strong as Rey in Star Wars as she is as the courageous woman being part of a dangerous battle in this movie. It’s the first time Holland and Ridley face each other, and it probably won’t be the last as they have great chemistry, and their emotional portrays are what keeps this movie together.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the performance of Mikkelsen (“ Another Round”, “ Arctic “) as the villainous, dark and daunting mayor, apart from the fact that we see too little of him. His acting is incredibly evil, and the movie could have really benefitted from more screen time for Mikkelsen, even if it’s just to see more of that stylish coat.
The only cast member that feels a bit miscast in this movie, it’s Jonas (“ Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle”, “ UglyDolls “). While his performance is still enjoyable, the chemistry between him and his on-screen father, Mikkelsen, isn’t there. They could be total strangers instead of father and son.
The sad thing about “Chaos Walking” is that it faced the same brutal fate as “New Mutants”. Lionsgate purchased this film’s rights in 2011, and it took ten years to finally release the movie. While the filming started in 2017 and a definite cut was ready in 2019, new footage was needed because the test audience agreed that “Chaos Walking” was a walking disaster.
While the whole team came together again, filmmaker Fede Alvarez (“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, “Don’t Breathe”) took over to save the movie. Sadly, this ungrateful task and the clash in tone and style had a negative impact on the movie. Not only on the production budget but also on the course and cohesion of the film.
Because of those significant production flaws, “Chaos Walking” certainly lacks professionality on some levels. That being said, the movie brings a dystopian tale in an enjoyable way, which is the main thing you want. The solid performances and the beautiful visual-sound balance makes this film an entertaining watch; just bite through the sluggish start.
“Chaos Walking” is available via digital platforms in the U.K. from the 2nd of April.
Originally published at https://www.ocmoviereviews.com on April 1, 2021.