chaos walking

Sometimes, films get stuck in an odd creative limbo for their release. Set to be released initially in 2018, several poor test screenings forced numerous reshoots. Being something normal in the film world, when the first cut of the movie was deemed “unwatchable,” it put up many red flags. I know for me, it certainly made me fearful of what final product we could end up with. It’s certainly not a slam dunk, but it can be entertaining if you’re in the mood. In a world with no women, all men are affected by “the noise,” a mysterious force that allows their thoughts to be projected. When young Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers a mysterious girl named Viola (Daisy Ridley), it sets them on a mission to uncover the secrets of this world.

Being based on a novel, you can certainly feel the expansiveness of this world. Despite numerous reshoots, the sci-fi aesthetic is apparent and quite effective. The real driving force is our two protagonists’ performances. Both Holland and Ridley have a great dynamic on screen and mine some great humor from the premise. Ridley’s Viola can hear these thoughts, allowing Holland to deliver some great moments of subtle comedy. It mainly stems from the effectiveness of the idea of men’s thoughts being projected. What makes “Chaos Walking” rather unfortunate is just how forgettable it is. That’s unfortunately due to nothing more than the circumstance surrounding its release.

Since the start of filming in 2017, the hype for YA adaptations has massively died off. You can feel, throughout the film, places where sequels and continuations of this story could go. However, the finale makes it to where there likely isn’t going to be a sequel. It’s a rather unfortunate mishap being that I found the pieces on the board to be fascinating. When you have actors like Mads Mikkelson and Cynthia Erivo who are given nothing to do, it doesn’t feel intentional. You can feel nothing but the continuous meddling of studios trying to make a product that’s never going to work. It’s a mash of different thoughts and ideas that never coalesce.

It’s me as a sci-fi fan that’s a little more forgiving of the ludicrous and cool world established. The attention to detail in the technology makes it feel fun and different from what we might expect. What makes it a bit of a mishap is that the time has passed for audiences to enjoy this sort of film. We’ve grown beyond the young adult franchises and deserve better. The other massive benefit to the film is that it doesn’t follow someone who was “chosen” and can take down a shadowy figure. It was enough for me to have a bit more fun since it didn’t know beat for beat how it was going to go. Either way, there’s still just as much good as it is bad.

“Chaos Walking” is nowhere near the dumpster-fire the behind-the-scenes drama will have you expect. Holland and Ridley make for a good on-screen dynamic and never force the romance. Compared to years of YA adventures with young actors who have to be in love forcefully, it was a nice surprise. That still doesn’t forgive the fact that the film has a feeling of being less than the sum of its parts. Due to the numerous reshoots, that’s to be expected but still feels like a waste of great resources. This goes to show that some stories don’t need to be adapted.

Rating: 5.5/10

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