A new movie released on March 5 of this year titled Chaos Walking follows a boy named Todd Hewitt who lives in a future dystopian society on a new planet where all the women are gone, and the men’s thoughts can be seen and heard around their heads. Then he meets Viola, the first woman he has ever seen and the only person who doesn’t have the Noise. Todd goes against everything that he’s taught to protect her and unlock the dark secrets held by those closest to him. This movie is based on the best-selling novel “The Knife of Never letting Go” by Patrick Ness who also co-wrote the screenplay with Christopher Ford.
Despite this movie’s star-studded cast that includes Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen and Nick Jonas, this movie was horrible almost to the point of being comical. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus between all the critics was that “Chaos Walking sets out on a potentially interesting path, but this dystopian adventure badly bungles its premise and limps toward the finish.”
Throughout the movie the audience is forced through a series of events that don’t have any motivation or point to them at all. At first, we see Todd, played by Holland, as a vulnerable and immature boy who is trying to win the favor of the mayor of his town, David Prentiss. Once Ridley’s character, Viola, crash lands on New World, the duo is forced on a seemingly pointless journey to contact Viola’s ship, constantly pursued by Prentiss and his followers.
There were elements of the story that created huge plot holes as well. The explanation as to why the women in Hewitt’s village were killed was flimsy and seemed like a last-ditch effort to create some tension that would have been missing otherwise. The men of Prentisstown, Hewitt’s village, all explain that the women were all killed by the native species, the Spackle, who live on the planet. The Spackle is not the home-improvement substance that creates a smooth surface, yet it felt like the director used them to fill in the cracks and holes of the plot but applied it with a hammer. The Spackle only show up in one short high intensity scene and then are completely forgotten with no other explanation regarding them.
Furthermore, there was an insane preacher character as an added form of tension with a constantly fluid loyalty and source of motivation. He began the movie as an ominous presence and that he could be helpful to Hewitt later in the movie. However, he moved on to be an ally with Prentiss, then morphed into a murderous psychopath pursuing Hewitt and Viola alone. He was driven to insanity so much he drowns a dog in cold blood. His motivations were unpredictable throughout the film leaving viewers confused.
The cinematography was one of the saving graces of this film. With only a few unconventional cuts in some scenes, the visual effects were stunning throughout. The Noise’s visual effects surrounding the male character’s heads was beautifully sinister and realistically rendered. It did not distract the audience from the shallow story being told but enhanced the plot.
Despite the sad plotline and shallow screen play, the actors were phenomenal and gave compelling performances all around. Holland and Ridley carried the movie with their portrayals of Hewitt and Viola. Holland, with his background in the Marvel Universe, portrayed a sweet unassuming young man who grew into a dangerous one with ease throughout the course of the movie. Ridley’s background in the Star Wars universe and other critically acclaimed films has developed her skills to be able to play formidable, sweet, but guarded characters. Both actors have extensive experience with visual effects created by CGI thus drawing the viewers into the movie despite its shortcomings.
I would not wish this movie upon anyone as it didn’t resolve any loose ends created in the plot and leaves the viewers confused and angry as they exit the theater.