“Chaos Walking” is a movie adaptation of a trilogy of young-adult novels. It has the story lines of all three books crammed into a single movie. It seems to have a generally unique idea, a world of only Men, and everyone’s inner thoughts are visible and can be heard in “The Noise”. However the execution of this movie leaves more questions than it does any answers. So it becomes ‘Chaos Watching’…
Todd Hewitt (played by Tom Holland) lives in the ‘New World’, a distant planet colonized by Eathlings. The people in the town, Prentisstown, are led by the unscrupulous Mayor David Prentiss (played by Mads Mikkelsen). Todd’s adoptive father Ben (played by Demián Bichir) keep Todd away on a ranch. Todd always goes out into the woods to explore. There, he finds Viola (played by Daisy Ridley). She had crash-landed in a scout ship from a much larger spacecraft ready to come to the New World’.
The town’s Preacher Aaron (played by David Oyelowo) knows that Viola’s presence here will bring the End Times. All the women of the original town are dead, and a this woman is not welcome.Todd and Viola escape to search for another settlement, called Farbranch. Everyone goes to search for Todd and Viola out in the woods. Todd has minimal control over his “Noise”, and he subconsciously says things that are hurtful to Viola. They are followed by Mayor Prentice, Aaron and all the other men to can hunt them down. Included in the posse is the Mayor’s son Davy (played by Nick Jonas).
Viola and Todd reach Farbranch, and see that it is led by Mayor Hildy (played by Cynthia Erivo). Todd is amazed that there are other settlements, and that this one has a female Mayor. The Prentisstown posse catches up to the escaped Todd and Viola. But because of the “Noise”, his father Ben is able to trick Mayor David into thinking that they have caught Viola. Viola and Todd go on the run again, and are chased by Preacher Aaron, and then rest of the posse.
There are the corroded remnants of the original space landing ship that brought the original settlers. If Viola can search inside for a working radio, she will be able call back to the approaching ship that is there to bring reinforcements. Mayor David and the posse are not far behind. Will Viola be able to make contact with the other group? Will the Mayor find the two fugitives and deliver his frontier justice? Will Todd be able to keep his thoughts to himself?
Although “Chaos Walking” has a top-notch crew behind it, and the novels have some seriously interesting ideas, this mish-mash of production does not hold up very well. Director Doug Liman has helmed some fantastic movies in the past (“The Bourne Identity”, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, “Edge of Tomorrow”, “American Made”) he just does not get much right here. Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, have a lot of talent, and a marvelous screen presence. But their roles in this movie do not match their abilities. Mads Mikkelsen makes for a seriously good Bad Man, and he delivers an ominous presence.
The movie seems seriously jumbled up, perhaps because the idea of “The Noise” works better on paper than it does on the screen. Maybe the bad comments in the various early screenings, and the resulting re-shoots that were made, broke the story line or something. But there is something amiss here. It could be the whinny character that Todd seems to be most of the time. Or perhaps it is the complete mystery that surrounds Viola in this story. There is really nothing learned about her or what she was doing before the landing ship crashed on Todd’s planet.
“Chaos Walking” Could have been a seriously interesting movie that made you want to stay put. But unless you like all this “Chaos”, it would be best to keep on “Walking”…
Directed by: Doug Liman
Screenplay by: Patrick Ness, Christopher Ford
Based on Novel: “The Knife of Never Letting Go” (by Patrick Ness)
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, David Oyelowo
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts
Cinematography: Ben Seresin
Edited by: Doc Crotzer
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Release date: March 5, 2021
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and language
Genre: Science Fiction