Come On Feel The Noise: Chaos Walking (2021) - Reviewed

images courtesy Lionsgate

As theaters finally begin to raise the limits on indoor seating during the biggest global pandemic in modern times, we get the dystopian action film, Chaos Walking. Based on the novel and young adult series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, a post Star Wars Daisy Ridley and Spider-Man star Tom Holland team up in the feature film that combines consistent Western tropes with science fiction, cult based religious themes, gender dynamics, and a troubled script that muddles its message of acceptance repeatedly. 

While Ridley and Holland do their damnedest to rise above the muck of a tonally problematic film, director Doug Liman mildly falters as he awaits production on his Edge of Tomorrow sequel to happen. This is not his best effort at all. Yet, the dynamic of cross breeding a traditional Western setup with a story about a futuristic adventure on an alien planet is definitely interesting. 

Going in blind, not knowing the source material, one might not really know what to expect from Chaos Walking. The setup is pretty simple. Humans have begun colonizing The New World, a place where men's thoughts are flashed for all to see. As they begin to set up their new habitat on an alien planet, trouble brews and the female population is decimated by an otherworldly force. Years after they've made peace with their new existence, Daisy Ridley's character shows up and causes all kinds of havoc for this community of celibate men. This is where the heroics of Holland come into play. He must free Ridley's Viola from the evil clutches of a would be cult that is now seeking freedom from their self proclaimed exile.



Most early buzz has ripped this movie to shreds. And many of the critical responses are correct. Chaos Walking's creative minds seem to lose focus many times, toiling in and out of narrative issues, lackluster actions scenes, and a run time that could have been reduced by twenty minutes or so. Yet, there's a solid lead villain performance from Mads Mikkelsen. And David Oyelowo is simply terrifying as a religious whack job that hates Holland's Todd with a vicious penchant. Demian Bichir is also on point with his performance as Todd's secondary father. Really none of the problems come into play from any of the actors here. They are all fully vested in their characters. And Sons of Anarchy's Kurt Sutter even makes an appearance as one of the lonesome planetary settlers. 

Despite some odd interplay and rushed editing that at times feels transitional at best, the movie does pull off a major stunt with its final product. Chaos Walking was troubled from the start. The movie began filming with Doug Liman back in 2017 but was eventually taken over by horror mastermind Fede Alvarez for reshoots in 2018 and 2019. Delays happened and then the pandemic started which continued to push the movie back. Initially meant for a 2018/2019 release, it was heaved all the way to 2021. Still it won't make back its budget as the studio refused to release it on streaming and theatrical at once. 

Chaos Walking is not something that folks need to rush to cinemas to see. It's an overall decent final film that really does rely heavily on dozens of ideas we've all seen before. It's destined to fail at the box office but may end up making some of its budget back when it hits the home video market. Ridley and Holland are far better than the material they're given to work with. Their pairing alone makes this watchable.