Chaos Walking

  • 03 Apr - 09 Apr, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Chaos Walking, a film that should have been a major disaster but ends up being just a minor one instead, watchable enough in parts, with the lowest of expectations, but not enough to warrant the time and money that’s been funnelled into it. The biggest problem that the director has is trying to visualise the main conceit from Patrick Ness’s novel, a tricky idea that might have worked on page but on the big screen, it’s dead on arrival. In the near future, a community of men live as part of the New World, left to their own devices after all of the women were killed by the Spackle, a race of malevolent aliens. Each man is followed by his own “noise”, a mist of thoughts and fears that must be controlled or will reveal their innermost secrets to those around.

Local boy Todd (Tom Holland) struggles to do this, to maintain his privacy, a problem that gets out of hand when a crash landing leaves a young woman in his sights. Viola (Daisy Ridley) is immediately seen as a threat by the men as women don’t have the same noise surrounding them and she is soon targeted by the town’s flamboyant, and ferocious, mayor, David. Forced to flee, Todd decides to join her as they make their way over unknown terrain, finding out that the truths they held dear might not be true at all.

There are many things that slightly miss the mark here, but nothing is quite as jarringly off target as the visualised streams of consciousness, confusing throughout, ugly at times and when a crowd of men are thinking at once, extremely annoying. Closely resembling the look of the shimmer from Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, it’s an ungainly blue and purple maelstrom of faces, words and ideas that’s so astoundingly misbegotten that it crushes the film from the start.

There’s such darkness to the set-up but the film avoids confronting difficult questions and Liman hopes we might stop asking them if there’s enough running and jumping to distract us. For that, Holland and Ridley are solid enough, both comfortable within physically active franchise fodder by now, but they’re left undernourished by a script that never bothers to give either of them the vaguest of characterisation and so a dynamic between the pair never really materialises.