Doug Liman is a director who has delivered some great movies over the years. From Swingers and Go to The Bourne Identity and Edge Of Tomorrow, Liman has helmed some serious Hollywood hits. The only real black mark on his filmography is 2008’s YA adaptation (and would-be franchise starter) Jumper. It’s intriguing then that Liman’s second cinematic stumble is Chaos Walking, yet another YA adaption (and would-be franchise starter). This time it’s a screen adaptation of Patrick Ness’ 2008 book The Knife of Never Letting Go. A film which had a troubled production and a lot of delays and after watching it, I have to say that Liman and company shouldn’t have bothered – Chaos Waking is a dud.
Set in a far-off planet where all women have been killed, Chaos Walking follows the plight of Tom Holland’s Todd after he discovers a crashed spaceship and it’s lone survivor – a female named Viola (Daisy Ridley). This sets off a chain of events which makes Todd question everything he knows about the world he lives in.
Chaos Walking is a mess from the beginning. That’s when we’re first hit over the head with the truly annoying premise where we can hear the thoughts of Holland’s Todd. This phenomenon – called The Noise – might have worked in small doses, but its (literally) constant noise, bombarding the audience with Holland’s internal monologue – and his dialogue. Things might be different if he had something interesting to say (or think), but Holland’s utterings are banal and annoying. Holland might be a good fit as Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he’s got to improve his range if he wants a career out of spandex. The actor has zero chemistry with co-star Ridley, who simply seems to be regurgitating her Star Wars character Rey, with less successful results (and a bad hairdo).
On the plus-side Liman has loaded his film with an excellent supporting cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, David Oyelowo and Kurt Sutter – who are all much better than the material they’re working with. However, the less said about Nick Jonas, the better.
With a reported budget of $100 million, you have to wonder where the money went, considering that most of Chaos Walking features Holland and Ridley trudging through Canadian woods. Everything feels very cheap and half-hearted.
A waste of time, money and talent – it’s probably best if you give Chaos Walking a miss and watch one of Doug Liman’s better movies.