In Brief: This almost sci-fi flick is disappointing. So much potential. So little done with it.
Spider-Man’s Tom Holland stars as Todd. He lives on New World. The men living on New World migrated from Earth. There are no women. Creatures living on the planet are said to have killed them all.
Something in the atmosphere causes the men to be able to hear thoughts. To say the least, keeping a secret is difficult. With a purple mist surrounding their heads, men mentally mumble to themselves to try to keep others from hearing their thoughts.
Then a woman from another ship from Earth crashes on the planet. She’s played by Star Wars star, Daisy Ridley. Women aren’t subject to the planet’s mind-reading laws. Their minds can’t be heard. At this point you’re thinking — hmmmm — one woman and a planet full of men. The fight over who gets her has to be the plot.
That might have been more interesting than the direction director Doug Liman took writer and scriptwriter, Patrick Ness’s book. Ness co-writes this screenplay and also wrote the screenplay for the terrific horror film, A Monster Calls.
It, too, was based on his book.
The idea of some men using thought reading process as a power to control others is interesting. So are the possible ways this kind of a story can be taken. In this case, Chaos Walking has the powerful mayor of Todd’s town wanting to control the woman because she came from a ship that has weapons. Those weapons can be used to kill the creatures who killed the women and control the planet.
The woman doesn’t like the idea nor does Todd. So they run and are — in turn — chased.
Chaos Walking is fraught with problems. Huge ones. It’ surprising because Liman is a brilliant director and did one of my all time favorite sci-fi films, Edge of Tomorrow. This one had possibilities that never quite materialized. I blame that on the script.
Christopher Ford helped Ness with the screenplay. He penned the very clever Robot & Frank and helped write Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Maybe Ness and Ford didn’t get along. Or maybe the Ness story didn’t have enough depth to make it interesting. Whatever the case, the script they produced is just no fun.
And that’s at the very heart of the matter. Concepts like “Chaos Walking” are hard to buy. My wife is a psychologist. She says if everyone could read everyone’s thoughts all the time it wouldn’t just be chaos. It would be insanity. No one could tolerate that much stimulation and the whole planet would be packed with babbling idiots.
My thoughts exactly and they don’t come with an all-enveloping purple haze around my head.
The best thing to have done would have been to introduce some fun into the story. It helps those of us watching to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the film. Once in awhile Limen and the writers give it a shot and have Holland and Ridley a chance to play off of Todd’s ribald thoughts.
However, those scenes are not well enough written to ignite any kind of spark.
Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Demian Bichir, David Oyelowo, Cynthia Erivo, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, Ray McKinnon
Rated PG-13 for language and mature themes. Chaos is the perfect term for a story it complete tatters. The sci-fi potential is there. Unfortunately, it quickly devolves into a common chase movie. Give it a 2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
You can find Chaos Walking at a few local Portland area theaters.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.