CHAOS WALKING (2021)
The long-delayed adaptation of the popular young adult novels overcomes a chaotic (pun intended) first few minutes and the curse of reshoots to land an enjoyable sci-fi film that rides the backs of stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
Set on a dystopian world where all of the men can hear each other’s thoughts and the women have all disappeared, the arrival of a mysterious woman (Ridley) turns the world upside down for one young man (Holland) who learns the truth about the past. Chaos Walking is a film that was expected back in 2019, but poor test screenings resulted in reshoots that delayed the film further before the pandemic emerged. Now finally ready for release, the film is reminiscent of other young adult adaptations (such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner) for bringing a complicated world to life on screen through beautiful visuals and genuine intrigue. The concept of hearing one another’s thoughts (called The Noise here) could have spelled disaster, however director Doug Liman’s use of the concept at key moments works well to propel the story forward and develop the characters further. Holland and Ridley are delightfully appealing in their own ways and the film excels once their journey begins together.
Not knowing much about the books on which Chaos Walking is based, the film works as a standalone sci-fi adventure that is a welcome diversion from some of the more serious films currently out there. Seeing a young Ridley and Holland circa the 2017 filming period is charming given the larger roles they are known for, as are supporting actors Mads Mikkelsen, Cynthia Erivo, and Nick Jonas, though this is not the latter’s best work. Whatever was changed from initial screenings to now (rumored to be improving the relationship between the two leads) certainly worked, resulting in fun suspension of belief and immersion into a world that could continue to be fleshed out in future films.
Chaos Walking hits theaters this Friday.
Photo from Lionsgate