Thursday, March 4, 2021

Chaos Walking Review: An Interesting Premise And Charismatic Sci-Fi Stars

Tom Holland	...	Todd Daisy Ridley	Daisy Ridley	...	Viola Demián Bichir	Demián Bichir	...	Ben David Oyelowo	David Oyelowo	...	Aaron Kurt Sutter	Kurt Sutter	...	Cillian Cynthia Erivo	Cynthia Erivo	...	Hildy Bethany Anne Lind	Bethany Anne Lind	...	Karyssa Hewitt Mads Mikkelsen	Mads Mikkelsen	...	Mayor Prentiss Nick Jonas	Nick Jonas	...	Davy Prentiss Jr. Ray McKinnon	Ray McKinnon	...	Matthew Vincent Leclerc	Vincent Leclerc	...	Daws Blane Crockarell	Blane Crockarell	...	Young Todd François Gauthier	François Gauthier	...	Charlie (as François Gauthiér) Tyrone Benskin	Tyrone Benskin	...	Hammer Frank Fontaine	Frank Fontaine	...	Mr. Phelps

Release date: March 5, 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Cast: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Demian Bichir, David Oyelowo, Kurt Sutter, Cynthia Erivo, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, and Ray McKinnon 
Directed by Doug Liman 
Screenplay by Christopher Ford and Patrick Ness 

In the not-too-distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared, and the men are afflicted by “the Noise” – a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened – and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.

Chaos Walking has an interesting premise.  The existence of the Noise makes for some new dilemmas as the characters thoughts are on display for all to see.  It puts a new layer on interactions when you can see everyone's thoughts laid bare, and there are no more secrets.  And it is also interesting to see the differences in relative comfort with the Noise that characters have; some characters have more control over it than others, and some have a pronounced passionate amount of noise that causes it to flare up when needed.  

And the Noise is not just audible; people's thoughts and use of the Noise are visible on screen.  Chaos Walking--as any good science fiction epic should--has some reallly good effects that bring this world to life.  The Noise is represented as a visual cloud above the character's heads and sometimes around their bodies.  And prominent thoughts are visualized, sort of like a hologram projected from the person.  And with this being a near future world, there is new technology on display: high tech weapons, food items, and other technologies have believable effects that look great.  But the movie also has a primitive aspect to it as well, with many in the village having a more cowboy aesthetic.  

Tom Holland is perfectly situated to play Todd Hewitt.  Holland is one of the most likeable actors in Hollywood, and seeing him deal with the Noise and trying to conceal his own thoughts is wonderfully entertaining.  Holland has a certain innate charm that comes through on screen, and the way that every little thought that comes into his head is narrated is a lot of fun to experience.  And seeing how Todd Hewitt tries to mask his thoughts or conceal them is likewise adds some levity to this film.  Ridley is a great foil for Holland, with her calmer, more serious mentality and lack of the Noise.  She is distrustful at the start and seeing her react to Holland's thoughts being visible is entertaining.  I also really liked Oyelowo as the Preacher, with his impassioned use of the Noise and zeal.  And Mads Mikkelsen is always fantastic and this film was no exception; he is a cold, calculating leader of his town who goes to great lengths to keep his power.

Chaos Walking tries to be a science fiction epic and it succeeds for the most part.  The story starts out simple enough, but you soon learn that there is more to this world than we are initially let on.  And the film takes you to several new locales and asks some new questions about what Hewitt and his village have been taught.  But the film also leaves some questions unanswered, and I was not sure if this was due to content being cut or trying to leave something for a sequel.  There are some plot holes that are just not explained and the ending has some convenient changes that make for an epic final fight, but don't quite make sense given what we've learned.  The technology was fun to see, but some of it just doesn't really add up.  Aspects at the start aren't explained and also some of the tech seems over the top; designed for a visual treat but not very practical.  And as enjoyable as the Noise was to see, it also made for some frantic audio experiences that might make this movie feel too busy.  I didn't mind it and liked the overall concept, but I can see how it could get distracting or downright overwhelming.  

Chaos Walking's interesting premise, great chemistry between Holland and Ridley, and unusual story will invade your thoughts in this new sci-fi epic.

Rent it.

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Chaos Walking is opening in theaters and IMAX (where open) on March 5, 2021.

For showtimes, click here.

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