It’s been a long wait for Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking. The film, based on Patrick Ness’ novel “The Knife of Never Letting Go”, was originally set to release on March 1st, 2019, but was delayed after the film underwent reshoots. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the film was delayed once again, finally landing on the release date of March 5th, 2021, over two years after the original date. Because of this, many fans have asked the question: is it worth the wait?
Before we get to that, it’s important to give a brief, spoiler-free overview of the movie. The film follows Todd Hewitt (played by Tom Holland) a teenager from the planet New World. Hewitt suffers from a condition called Noise, in which his every thought is broadcast to those around him, and is one that all makes on this alien planet have. Todd attempts to control his condition, channeling these thoughts into mirages. However, only Mayor Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) has mastered this ability completely, and uses it to control Prentisstown, a place on New World.
Holland’s Hewitt eventually meets Daisy Ridley’s Viola, who crashes and lands on New World, and is a representative of sorts for the new round of settlers. Hewitt is inherently intrigued by Viola, given that he’s never met a woman before in his entire life. Hewitt feels drawn to Viola and decides to help her as she attempts to contact the others.
The simple answer as to whether or not this film is worth the wait is yes (for the most part). The Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley led project is a film that will, at the very least, entertain audiences. Moviegoers will certainly appreciate the excellent cast doing the best with the material at their disposal. Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, and Mads Mikkelsen all together for one movie is bound to be a director’s dream, and will sure to interest audiences. It’s no surprise that all three excel once again in this film. Holland and Ridley in particular are excellent in the rare but welcomed comedic moments in the movie, and these exchanges add to the characters chemistry significantly. These moments often come when Hewitt’s thoughts are displayed out in the open for Viola to see, and lighten the movie up in a necessary and fun way. Mikkelsen is also good once again in this movie (no surprise there), and displays his usual villainous nature in a way so convincing that very few others in Hollywood today can. Although we wish he played a bit more of a significant role in the film. Avoiding spoiler-territory, some of Miklelsen’s character’s motivations and goals are a bit muddled to say the least.
Despite these excellent actors leading the movie, there’s a certain sense that more can be done to fully utilize the stellar cast at hand. Holland and Ridley are incredible talents, as their roles in Marvel and Star Wars respectively highlight, yet their talent isn’t on full display here. Daisy Ridley in particular goes long stretches in the film with little dialogue. Audiences know what she and her counterpart can do, so it’s frustrating to see their full potential not realized in this movie. However, despite this, Holland and Ridley are still great once again in this movie given what they have at their disposal.
The premise of Chaos Walking is particularly gripping and sets the stage for an interesting film moving forward. It’s a shame that, at times, the film feels quite choppy and jarring. The film went through widely-covered reshoots after principal photography after it screened poorly with test audiences and some of this chopping and changing is evident on screen. Although Chaos Walking is always entertaining and captures your attention, its narrative seems to shift focus quite a lot through the duration of the movie, something we attribute to somewhat uneven pacing.
All things considered, Chaos Walking could have been – as the title suggests – chaos walking. And the film is certainly not that. The leads are charismatic and the premise is interesting enough to deliver an entertaining sci-fi thriller competently directed by Doug Liman, although it’s a shame the film doesn’t come together more cohesively and truly actualize the potential of it’s premise.
Images courtesy of Lionsgate