Chaos Walking (2021) movie review
Chaos Walking stars Tom Holland as Todd, a young adult growing up on a dystopian world where all men have their thoughts hear aloud. However things begin to change when Viola, played by Daisy Ridley, crashed on the planet. Chaos Walking was directed by Doug Liman and adapted from the book “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness. The film was released this past weekend after more than a three year post-production nightmare which included reshoots back in 2019. Naturally the reviews from critics and audiences are less than positive…
I myself have a slew of issues with Chaos Walking, from the lazy filmmaking to the late release YA story that, like many before it, it a hollow story built on an interesting but incomplete idea. And if you still think that an almost two hour film where you almost constantly hear the interrupting thoughts of most of the characters sounds interesting, let me tell you, it’s really annoying. I wanted to actually write my thoughts down throughout the review in parenthesis, but I haven’t had coffee yet, so my thoughts aren’t exactly- there yet.
Okay that said, is this how guys thing? There’s a constant “Girl, girl, girl-” repetition used to invoke either comedy or an uncertain tension throughout the film, but I (a male) don’t typically repeat thoughts over and over again in my head. (I don’t- don’t do it. Thoughts. The thoughts. Don’t repeat.) I’ll stop that now, I just wanted to get the idea across. There are some attempts at comedy too, but I was simply too distracted or bored to laugh at any of them. Plus it’s not like you can’t see every joke in this film coming a mile away.
For that matter, you can see everything that happens in this film a mile away. Like every YA story ever, there’s hilariously unnecessary worldbuilding, renaming (like, the ‘noise’ is called “Noise,” but they are just thoughts. Why not call them “Thoughts?”) , and society shaping complete with ‘tell don’t show’ backstory that exists exclusively for twists later on in the film. But as cliché as the story is, the bland characters are even less interesting.
Tom Holland does a decent enough job as a young adult given the characteristics of a child for some reason. That said, as is the case with many performers, he puts in an understandably weaker effort for the reshoots. Similarly, Daisy Ridley is stuck somewhere between a lack of interest in this role and her blonde wig and being given a character that has nothing to do anyway. For a film that has some painfully typical thoughts about gender roles, they give the guy all the work to do while Daisy Ridley is reduced to trying to get a communication device working. (Yay for progress!)
The score from Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts was a highlight (big surprise I know). Beltrami has a knack for interesting scores in less than interesting movies, and this is certainly a good example. That said, their music is the only nice thing I have to say when it comes to the quality of filmmaking. The framing is fine, but the messy editing and constantly blurry camera movements don’t give you a chance to focus on anything. Except for the really slow scenes of obvious dialogue set to a lack of round characters. Also continuity is Fant4stic (2015) bad.
Fun fact: I typed in “Fant4” on IMDb just to see if that Fantastic Four would pop up, and it did! Very satisfied.
Well I could probably tall more about this dull adaptation, but I just started thinking about Fant4stic, and that one is at least a full point worse. Chaos Walking is many things, but entertaining isn’t one of them. It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, and I would be surprised to see it on my Worst of 2021. That said, this time next week I will have completely forgotten about this. Its just not that interesting, and it’s not good. Shoutout to the composers and antagonist Mads Mikkelsen for being standouts, but there isn’t anything here to save this movie from itself. 4/10.
So Chaos Walking? Did you see it? What did you think? And what is your LEAST favorite YA film? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know below and we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince