World news – Film Review – Chaos Walking (2021)


Directed by Doug Liman.
The actors are Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, David Oyelowo, Ray McKinnon and Kurt Sutter.

A dystopian world in which there are no women and all living beings have each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words and sounds known as noise.

Not only have there been multiple reports of delays and re-recordings for Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking (the filmmaker of Edge of Tomorrow who wrote the first part of a Trilogy of books by Patrick Ness and translated his own work into a script with writer Christopher Ford), but also rumble that it is « unobservable ». Now that I’ve seen the movie with a better understanding of what the YA sci-fi story is all about, I’d bet the incoherence of everything wasn’t seen from a narrative standpoint, but rather from its conception of something called a noise ability on a planet colonized as the New World where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. At one point, it’s easy to imagine that chaos walking is nothing more than external thoughts drowning out the appearance of a story and character work.

To some extent, this is still the main flaw here. Tom Holland is Todd Hewitt (a name you’ll have branded on yourself 20 minutes into the movie, as repeating his name out loud is the defense to hide his thoughts) an orphan on the new planet with a dog best friend and more affinity with Prentiss, the mayor of the new settlement, played by Mads Mikkelsen, who wears a ridiculous wardrobe of fur coats and silly hats that instantly betray malevolent tendencies than his adoptive carers (Demián Bichir and Kurt Sutter). His mother died when he was a child, and to a larger point, all women were exterminated by an alien species (although technically the humans in that situation would be the aliens) known as the Spackle.

Shortly after the Establishing the key details of building the world, Daisy Ridley’s viola crash lands in the region. Your mission is to make contact with people as a second wave of people travels to the new planet. Much to Todd’s surprise, Viola has no sound but can still hear his thoughts, which bothers Prentiss and a mad preacher played by David Oyelowo. It doesn’t take a big brain to figure out that Prentiss, who has such a big ego that he named the settlement after himself, is hiding something, especially considering Todd’s guards keep telling him to not trusting the eccentric leader who happened to have this mastered the art of controlling his noise.

On paper, and I can only assume in book form, Chaos Walking is certainly unique and promises to be different from anything what i have ever seen If you want to compare it to something, take What Women Want (or its remake, which flips the script to men) and smash it into a sci-fi setting. Characters glow when their thoughts are vocalized (this is as much a voice-over performance by Tom Holland as a live-action performance), and sometimes holograms play basic things through your mind, usually for dramatic effects but also for a few clever amusing parts. Visually, it is brought to life cleanly and comfortably, without too much clutter. In terms of sound, the thoughts are unfortunately hardly even thoughts, but rather phrases and sentence fragments. Again, it’s obvious that Chaos Walking has gone through development hell because there is next to no way of doing this without either too much or too little, and for all these years the filmmakers still haven’t cracked the code .

Todd and Viola go on the run when it turns out there is another settlement that doesn’t exist far behind them, and one with some surprising revelations that make Todd further question what he was told as an adult . This means that Prentiss is on the trail with his legitimate son Davy (Nick Jonas) despite having little to do and once the former’s motivations are finally revealed they are simplistic and deserve more complexity. The same goes for a lot about mess walking. There’s a lot here, but it’s all superficial or skewed to the point you don’t even care (Exhibit A: The Preacher Clearly Going Through an Existential Crisis Regarding His Actions).

It’s more frustrating to be that various characters emit an exposure that often sounds like it would lead to a more interesting and engaging film, such as the fact that the trip to the New World takes so long for Viola to be born on a spaceship. Even a story before the female extinction (or at least some scenes during that time) would add to the dynamic between some of these characters and plot points. As it stands, Chaos Walking is aesthetically creative to look at, but narratively only goes in the direction of predictability and mediocrity. For a movie that states in advance that a man’s minds are chaos, what is here is more like chaos sleepwalking.

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Look for new reviews here, follow my twitter or letterboxd or send me an email at [email protected]

Filed Under: Movies, Reviews, Robert Kojder Tagged With: Chaos Walking, Cynthia Erivo, Daisies Ridley, David Oyelowo, Demian Bichir, Doug Liman, Kurt Sutter, Mad Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, Ray McKinnon, Tom Holland

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