Chaos Walking Movie Review
If you can think of nothing more obnoxious than living in a world where you can hear everyone’s thoughts and everyone can hear yours, Chaos Walking is here to to say “hold my beer.”
Concept thrillers work when you can buy into the concept, no matter how farfetched. And somewhere, maybe, there is a good movie idling, just waiting to be made, about a colony of settlers on a distant planet whose thoughts are both audibly and visibly represented at all times. Chaos Walking is not that movie.
Starring Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley and Mads Mikkelsen and directed by discretely reliable Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow), Chaos Walking has the star power to make it all work, but not much else. Marred by a bland story and irritating screenplay that never quite figures out what to do with its weird premise, the movie boasts a couple of okay if instantly forgettable action sequences and lots of wasted potential.
Chaos Walking really struggles on two fronts. First, the whole hearing/seeing thoughts out loud idea just doesn’t work. Holland is a good actor, but hearing a steady stream of his inner, squeaky voice (which just happens to be PG-rated in a PG-13-rated movie) for two hours becomes tedious within the first five minutes. Second, the movie doesn’t do much with the idea at play. What if you lived in a world where you knew what everyone was thinking at all times? Would the society be one of extreme honesty? Terseness? Would thought crime be a thing? And in the form of an action movie, what’s the potential for shaping the events that occur around the unique attributes of this idea? If the book by Patrick Ness tackles these questions, great, but what comes through in the final, big screen product is a fairly routine story that just happens to have characters who think out loud.
A concept thriller with a concept that is too annoying to tolerate, Chaos Walking isn’t without its moments—but those moments come few and far between. The biggest positive: the movie lives up to its title.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.