‘Chaos Walking‘ is directed by Doug Liman and based on a novel by Patrick Ness, who also co-wrote the screenplay. I have not read the book, so I will only address the film itself.
In the year 2257, the Earth has sent colonists into space, and Viola (Daisy Ridley) is heading to New World to scout it out before the larger ship arrives. However, when they enter the atmosphere, a weird haze affects the male pilot of the ship where she can see their thoughts. As a result, the ship crashes and she is the only survivor. She runs into Todd (Tom Holland) who lives in a town of only men led by the Mayor (Mads Mikkelsen) and radical Preacher Aaron (David Oyelowo). The mayor tells her that the women in their town were killed by a native species called the Spackle, who are attracted by the “noise,” a cloud surrounding men that exposes their thoughts. She realizes they plan to use her as a martyr and Todd helps her escape to another town. The mayor, his psychopathic son Davy (Nick Jonas), and the preacher all follow as Todd tries to hide his noise from Viola.
For those of you unaware, this sci-fi flick had a troubled history. It was supposed to come out in 2018 but after several disastrous test screenings, they recut the movie including removing an ending tied closer to the book’s cliffhanger. At one point, Lionsgate was going to decline to release it but decided to dump it out as theaters started to open. After viewing it, I can see why.
The story is incredibly layered and felt like you were watching bullet points instead of a story. Everything just sort of happens without pause and it wobbles along until the climax. It was also littered with lazy logic problems and in some places, was just plain boring. This made it tough to stay connected to the plot. They introduce too many things that take away from the main plot. A girl on the run from psychotic men is one thing, but then there are aliens, space, talk of Earth, and other colonies. It made it difficult to follow along at times.
I don’t know what it is about Hollywood, but every time they have a preacher, even a “radical” one, they seem to have no grasp about what the Bible actually says. It’s like the screenwriters do a web search on scriptures to take out of context and shoe-horn them into their villain’s dialogue. This is the same with Aaron. I actually doubt he ever read the Bible, much less actually studied it. Filmmakers should find a new trope. It is old.
As for the logic problems, I’ll give you two examples. It is established that Holland, as Todd, can control his noise to the point of making illusions seem real. He does this like… twice. It would have come in handy several times, such as when he and Viola encounter a Spackle. Also, the Mayor is shown to be able to hypnotize men with a special chant that affects their noise. The origin of this ability is never explained and it just comes from nowhere. Neither Todd, a third character, and the Preacher are unaffected by it, but random men from a different town seem to be. Like the origin, it is never explained. They give two different reasons for Viola wanting to contact her ship. That was confusing.
Naturally, the movie wants you to know that it is feminist or what they think is feminism. When the noise happens, the men for some reason talk in one-word sentences in their cloud. Occasionally this rule is broken, but very rarely. It kind of got laughable as they “caveman grunted” their thoughts. Of course, our protagonist constantly reminds himself to “be a man” when something bad happens. It is so smeared in these tired tropes, it got old pretty fast. We get it Hollywood. You read a Tumblr feminist’s article once. Move on.
There is one good thing about this movie and that is the performances of Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland. They both had excellent chemistry plus it was refreshing to see them outside of their respective franchises. It was a shame they ended up with such a crappy script because I think they could have shined.
Bottom line, Chaos Walking is a boring trip into lazy screenwriting that makes you wonder who made the decision to release it. It is doubtful they still have a job.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Disturbing images, Foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: Coward!
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Cruella and Beckett. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
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