REVIEW: Generic story causes ‘Chaos Walking’ to crash

Yes, it’s a generic young adult science fiction film, but this time, wait for it, it has actors from Marvel and “Star Wars!”

Yeah, that doesn’t help all too much.

“Chaos Walking” is a film taking place on a new planet with an environment and atmosphere a lot like Earth’s. The only major difference is that men, for no specified reason, can have their thoughts on display. Their thoughts and inner monologues can be heard by people close by and some of the memories they have can even be seen. The film revolves around a young man named Todd (Tom Holland), who works on a farm in a small settlement town.

The colony was one of the first groupings of people to land on the new planet. However, because of a conflict with a native species, all of the women in the town died. The area doesn’t stay woman-less for long, though, as a scout named Viola (Daisey Ridley) from a larger ship with the next group of colonies crash lands on the planet.

Upon her discovery, the mayor of the small community (Mads Mikkelsen) sees an opportunity to call Viola’s ship and take it for himself. Feeling a need to protect her, Todd embarks on a journey with Viola, to get her away from the nefarious character and contact the ship first.

“Chaos Walking” is a completely generic young adult feature. There’s an evil, controlling antagonist ruling a community who sets out against the two protagonists, who have a bit of romantic tension between them as they get from point A to point B. It’s simply difficult to stay hooked when there’s not much that this adventure offers.

The only thing really setting this picture apart from others in the genre is the thoughts reading aspect, but this actually makes the movie tiring after a while. Outside a few clever moments, it’s mostly just Todd mumbling to himself and Viola having to hear it.

Courtesy Lionsgate.

There’s never any big reveal as to why only men are affected, either. Nor is there much insight into how the native species on the planet use this ability, which is unfortunate.

This is in fact a capable cast. Holland and Ridley are talented rising stars and Mikkelsen has proven himself as a great actor. Yet the material just lets them down across the board. The characters are simply bland and don’t stand out all too much, despite the efforts of these performers.

The action doesn’t help much, either. Most of the time it’s Todd and Viola running away through the woods, which don’t look all too alien by the way, as they try to get away from Mikkelsen’s character. If you’re hoping for a cool shoot out with advanced weaponry or an entertaining final confrontation with interesting tactics, you’re out of luck.

There are some unanswered questions that go into this movie, too, which also lessen the experience. For example, the thought aspect doesn’t seem to be known by the second ship coming to the planet, as if none of this information was relayed to the next wave of travelers. That’s never explored.

Another is a preacher character, Aaron, that seems out of place as the film’s secondary antagonist. While the character, played by David Oyelowo, is indeed a preacher, he doesn’t exactly specify what religion he practices, so any sort of potential religious commentary isn’t really clear.

The cast, thought reading concept and a few action scenes make this somewhat entertaining, but only just so. This was based on a book, so fans might get something out of it, and genre enthusiast might enjoy it somewhat, too. But for the most part, this is an easy one to skip. 1.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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