‘Chaos Walking’ is based on Patrick Ness’ 2008 book, ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’, part of the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy.
Tom Holland of ‘Spider-Man’ fame stars as a teen living on a foreign planet, known as ‘The New World’, where human colonists have settled. He lives in an all-male colony and – like all men there – must deal with a phenomenon known as ‘Noise’, which causes all of their thoughts to be heard and projected.
The peace of this small colony fractures when a scouting ship crash-lands and reveals a sole survivor; a woman, played by Daisy Ridley (Rey in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’).
Director Doug Liman has finally released this film after a strenuous four years in the making, when the studio deemed the film “unreleasable” and it underwent extensive reshoots in 2019. All this should lead to the film being a major disaster on a ‘John Carter’ scale, but ends up being just a minor one instead.
The source material has some interesting elements and the scope of the film is expansive. Luscious green scenery and creative wide camera sweeps create a sense of vast wilderness that is very enjoyable to watch on the big screen.
The casting of the film is excellent, with some major actors playing minor roles. There are likeable leads like Mads Mikkelsen, in the role of the town’s flamboyant – and ferocious – mayor.
There is real chemistry between Holland and Ridley. Their acting ability shines through so much that you often forget about the havoc around them and enjoy watching this budding young romance bloom.
However, you cannot help but feel let down and ultimately frustrated by this film. It never flows in a coherent way that allows you engross yourself in the characters and world around. This appears to be a byproduct of the Frankenstein script, which apparently underwent many rewrites and redrafts.
The film seems to focus more on world-building rather than character development. Characters come and go, leaving the audience confused and frustrated. The story feels rushed, with interesting concepts like colonisation, and misogyny towards women skipped over for another unnecessary action sequence. There is too much was going on at once, and everything moves just too fast.
There is just enough fun and action to make this film watchable but it will not stick with you in any substantial way. Despite some interesting elements, the pace and lack of clarity leave the audience too confused to really care about the characters and their fate.
This young-adult dystopian/sci-fi movie is clearly targeted at the ‘Hunger Games’ audience. There are potential sequels to be made from the other books, but I somehow doubt this vision will ever be realised.