The film directed by Doug Liman from a screenplay by Patrick Ness and Christopher Ford is based on the sci-fi trilogy Chaos Walking. Fans of the books have eagerly awaited the first live action adaptation and this takes its cue from the first book, 2008’s The Knife of Never Letting Go by Ness.
The movie has some choice casting enlisting the help of Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, along with Mads Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo and Nick Jonas. Jonas puts in a competant performance, one which is pretty understated. It was also interesting to see the Marvel and Star Wars mash up of characters on screen represented by Ridley and Holland. It would have been fun to hear them utter “I’m Todd by the way” “Viola” “Oh, we’re using our made-up names”
It’s set on a dystopian world seemingly without women, where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. the way in which this translates on screen is cleverly done as we hear and see thoughts in a series of hazy colours, images and sounds. The action begins when Viola (Ridley), the last remaining survivor of a scouting mission crash-lands on the planet and runs headlong into (Todd) Holland.
Given the majority of the film is a combination of internalised thoughts and outward dialogue it manages to keep the narrative structure fairly tight. Particularly novel are the flashback storytelling aspects which are delivered through the same device that enables us to hear each of the protagonist’s thoughts.
Staying with the plot device of men literally speaking their minds, it was a fascinating introduction to the concept and a well worn opposite trope that we see explained as Ridley’s crew members develop this ability once breaching the atmosphere of the planet. Strangely Viola does not develop this talent which lends itself to fleshing out the intricate story.
Holland puts in a great performance here but I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the other angsty, bumbling and clumsy personas we have seen him inhabit of late. He may well have cornered this market but it did seem as though we were seeing Peter Parker and Cherry being channelled by his current character Todd.
Given the simplicity of the plot the movie was a little baggy but what helps it to amble along were the central performances of Mikkelsen, Holland and Ridley, Oyelowo’s preacher turned mad by the ‘noise’ was an equally fascinating role to see him execute. All things being considered Chaos Walking is a decent attempt at bringing what appears on paper to be a fairly difficult concept to bring to the screen. A film which could have been led by effects is supported by it, which in today’s blockbuster era is commendable.
Lionsgate has announced that Chos Walking will be available to rent on all Premium Video on Demand services from Friday 2nd April.
The film will be available in cinemas as soon as they are given the go-ahead to re-open too.