Review by Dan Skip Allen
Chaos Walking is based on the book The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in the Chaos Walking trilogy by author Patrick Ness. Doug Liman directed this film based on a script from Charlie Kaufman, Patrick Ness, and others. It's a sci-fi fantasy film set in a far-off future in the year 2257 AD. The planet is called New World and the town that is featured in the film is called Prentisstown. Lionsgate has another young adult sci-fi fantasy on its hands in the likes of The Hunger Games as opposed to the flop that was the Divergent series.
Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) plays a teenage boy in Prentisstown. At first glance, he's a simple farm boy until a spaceship crash lands on New World with a girl played by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) on it. He has come to learn all women were killed by an alien race called the Spackle. The aliens left all the men with a brain disease called the Noise, where their thoughts are broadcast to everyone that is in their vicinity. This can be a difficult thing to navigate. Some can turn off the Noise, but most can't.
This film has an amazing cast to match the scope and nature of the film. Demian Bachir plays the father figure of Holland's character, Mads Mikkelsen plays the mayor of Prentisstown, Nick Jonas plays his son, David Oyelowo plays a preacher, and Cynthia Erivo plays the leader of a new settlement called Farbrach to which Holland and Ridley go to for help. This cast of big-name actors is a pleasant surprise for this new sci-fi film. They all add unique touches to the story and film.
Holland and Ridley are the focus of this film and as such their chemistry is fantastic. They navigate through different trials and tribulations as the film progresses. I believed in what their mission was and how they gained each other's trust throughout the film. They gradually became closer and closer the more the situation they were in became harder to navigate. It was nice to see them work together.
Noise is a man's thoughts unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just Chaos Walking. The Noise has an interesting effect to it. It is like a hue around the head, like that of a smoke cloud. The person's thoughts are projected in this hue. This is a great way the author imagined how thoughts could be projected. Liman and crew created a cool effect to show how this works. It had a very good effect on the screen.
As New World is further explored in the film, it has a Western feel to it, like settlers settled the towns and states in the Old West, albeit with a sci-fi twist to it. It is nice to see a mix of westerns and sci-fi done properly. They are two genres that are cool on their own, but together they make for a great mix. They have been added together in other films, but this time, they work seamlessly together.
Doug Liman mixes a great cast with an interesting premise based on this young adult book series. The locations are just woods and mountains so it passes for our planet with a twist. They put up some ramshackle housing and some sheds and viola — you have an alien world with a couple of settlements.
This film was a pleasant surprise to me. I had no idea what I was getting into with it and I ended up being happy with the end product. The cast all give very good performances, but the standouts are Holland and Ridley. The future of this potential franchise is bright. I can't wait to see where these films go from here. This is an interesting concept that deserves an audience. Hopefully the cast and Doug Liman will attract people to see this film time and again.
Chaos Walking hits theaters on March 5.
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