Movie review: Chaos Walking

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mad Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo

Runtime: 109 minutes

Rating: PG-13 (for violence and language.)

As theaters begin to open up to full capacity we will be seeing newer releases. This is a welcome change as the last few months, the choices have been slim. This isn’t to say that theaters aren’t still going above and beyond to keep us safe while we are there. I’ve been to various cinemas the last few months and they all do a wonderful job with social distancing and keeping things sanitized. I was eager for this film for several reasons. The premise intrigued me. Your thoughts are “spoken” aloud amongst yourselves. Also the cast was A+ We had Rey from Star Wars (Daisy Ridley) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) teaming up in a sci-fi action adventure. The villains of the film are also superb. Mad Mikkelsen ALWAYS leaves a lasting impression and David Oyelowo was a haunting presence in this tale. This is also based on a novel called The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

Onto the film.

We open with these words. “The noise is a man’s thoughts unfiltered. And without a filter a man is just chaos walking.” – Unknown New World. Immediately this idea is put into our minds. We then meet our young protagonist Todd Hewitt (Holland) and his AWESOME dog Manchee. Manchee isn’t a pug but I still liked him. Hewitt is walking through the woods saying his name over and over. These are his thoughts appearing as “noise.” The way it appears on screen is a mist around the characters head. The louder the thought the bigger the mist. At first I thought they should have added sometimes with the mist as the cast has thoughts and also speaks at the same time, but my date and I got used to it rather quickly.

On the way to Prentisstown (the town where Hewitt is from.) we meet Aaron (Oyelowo) who bullies Hewitt and attacks him. A comment is made that shows this isn’t the first time this happens. Once back into town we meet the mayor David Prentiss (Mikkelsen) who Hewitt looks up to. The chemistry between the pair is evident from the start and we see how Hewitt wants desperately to impress the elder mayor. As we meet more of the men in town we learn that there are no women left alive. There was a war years before against the inhabitants of this alien world known as “Spackle” who killed all women in Prentisstown. This comes into play later.

As the film slowly progresses and we now have an understanding of the “noise” and the “spackle” a wrench is thrown into the plot.

A spaceship begins to crash from the planet’s orbit and in it is our heroine Viola Eade (Ridley) as she crashes on the planet she is spotted by Hewitt. Confusion sits in as he’s never see a woman before! From here the film takes on aspects of a typical “chase” film with the heroes needing to go to x location in a certain amount of time. It’s an overused plot but it still works in this case.

The land is gorgeous to look at and surprisingly the special effects of the “noise” looks fluid and part of the World. I was worried this would look cheesy, it didn’t. However the film is weak in terms of dialogue. We are asked to care for these characters and it is hard to immediately care and worry about them with so little back story. This isn’t to say this ruins the film, as the cast lift up a thin plot.

Maybe it was just nice to see Spiderman and Rey on screen? But, I don’t think this film would have been such a joy with lesser known actors. The action sequences work and there is a thrilling chase on the open waters. I compared this film to other sci-fi movies and especially Blade Runner 2049 and unfortunately Chaos Walking is entertaining but not spectacular. It’s worth the watch if you’re a fan of the actors, or the genre. It’s at least worth the price of admission to meet Manchee…even if he isn’t a pug. 3 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist