Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland are mismatched leads in the disjointed sci-fi movie, Chaos walking. Based on Patrick Ness’s trilogy of popular young adult fiction novels, Chaos walking it has a core premise that doesn’t translate to the big screen. Set in the future on a planet called “New World”, male characters can see and hear the innermost thoughts of others through a phenomenon called “Noise”. The film portrays “Noise” visually and with voiceovers that follow almost every spoken line. The effect is continually annoying, and worse, it is compounded by misdirection. Doug Liman, one of Hollywood’s most capable filmmakers, is conceptually wrong and wastes an excellent cast.
Tom Holland plays Todd Hewitt, a young man who works on his parents’ (Demián Bichir, Kurt Sutter) farm. They are survivors of the “first wave” settlement in the “New World”; where all men are affected by “noise”. His colony is called Prentisstown, run by David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen), who has learned to use his “Noise” as a weapon. Prentisstown has no women. Todd’s mother and the other females were wiped out by the “Spackle”, the native inhabitants of the planet.
Daisy ridley She co-stars as Viola, an explorer from the “second wave” of settlers heading to the “New World.” Their ship crashes when the male crew is overwhelmed by their reaction to “Noise”. Todd meets Viola in the woods. She is the first woman he has ever seen and he falls in love instantly. Its lack of “noise” makes him nervous. Viola is considered an existential threat by the city’s rabid preacher (David Oyelowo). But it offers a different opportunity to the tyrannical mayor and his son (Nick Jonas). Tom decides to protect Viola from the men of Prentisstown. As they escape deeper into the “New World”, Todd discovers many secrets from the past and struggles to hide his feelings from Viola.
Let’s start with the “Noise”. The cacophony of mental stimuli and lack of privacy is the driving force behind the entire film. Doug Liman (The Bourne identity, Mr and Mrs Smith) needed a better way to portray “Noise” without its inherent confusion derailing the plot. This is extraordinarily difficult, but it must be accomplished in order to tell the story smoothly. Unfortunately, Liman fails in this task and the result paralyzes. Chaos walking. The constant secondary voice-overs and the buzz of discordance in the group scenes make for a difficult task to watch.
The “Noise” effect is only acceptable when Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland are alone. A different approach could have been to employ Terrence Malick (The thin red line) narrative style. In his films, the thoughts of the characters are heard, but they do not bother. Of course, there is a visual element here that needs to be considered, but that could have been tempered.
Chaos walking it feels choppy and improvised. The film does not have a coherent cinematic flow. This leads to a critical lack of chemistry between Daisy Ridley and Tom holland. They rush together, on the run, and accelerate to a completely predictable climax. Doug Liman’s editing choices appear to be to blame. A realistic tension is never established between its main actors. The secondary characters and subplots disappear completely. It’s a shame because the movie has a revered and talented cast. Industry stalwarts Mads Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo and Demián Bichir are practically forgettable.
Chaos walking shows that adapting high-concept stories is no easy task. I wish Doug Liman could do a mulligan and do it again. His ability to film complex science fiction, such as the brilliant The era of El Mañana, is not evident in this effort. Fans of the novels and the general public will be disappointed. Chaos walking is a 3 Arts Entertainment and BRON Studios production. Lionsgate will release it in theaters on March 5.
Topic: Chaos Walking
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