Two unlikely companions embark on a perilous adventure through the badlands of an unexplored planet as they try to escape a dangerous and disorienting reality, where all inner thoughts are seen and heard by everyone.
Adapting a series of books into a movie is often a daunting task. As anyone who has seen many Stephen King adaptations can attest; plot complexity, characters, and depth are removed in order to condense the story into a two-hour or less run time.
The rise of streaming services has allowed many books to be adapted into series without having to cut much of the adult content in the books which would make it difficult for network television.
As such it makes adaptations such as “Chaos Walking” a delicate undertaking. The film is based on a series of books and stars Tom Holland as Todd; a young ma living on a distant world where there are no women and people can hear and see each other’s thoughts by a process known as “Noise”.
Their rustic colony is run with a firm hand by their Mayor (Mads Mikkelsen); who keeps those around him from seeing his thoughts which gives him a big advantage over those who rule.
When a landing craft from a mothership filled with a new wave of colonists crashes on the planet; Todd is shocked to find that the only survivor is a woman named Viola (Daisy Ridley) whose arrival disrupts the community.
The Mayor wishes to keep her from contacting her ship so they can seize it when it lands to maintain control of his empire as he sees the arrival of new individuals as a threat to his power.
Todd and Viola escape trying to reach a distant colony where she hopes to find a way to warn her ship about the danger the Mayor and his men present and they pursue the duo to keep this from happening.
The film lightly touches on the native race that Todd believes killed all the women of their colony but they are not visited save for a brief appearance. It is clear that the Mayor is hiding something and the reveal of what and why is fairly underwhelming which reduces him and most of his followers as thinly developed stock characters.
There is also the mystery as to why the Mothership does not bother to do any sort of follow up when they did not hear from their lander and like many aspects of the film; require the audience to simply go along with things and not ask too many questions to make things work.
Thankfully the two leads are interesting enough and they hold attention even when the story is slowly moving along with scene after scene of rivers, woods, and a little conversation.
One big issue with the film is the Noise as the visualization of thoughts as well as hearing them mixed in with verbal communication can get very confusing as it is like multiple voices in a crowded room.
Despite the issues, the potential is there and I found myself wondering what was next for the characters and hope that they do adapt future books in the series. While the film on its own does not work as a fully developed story’ as an introduction to the series it does enough to peak the interests for more.
3.5 out of 5
Quadrant Pictures, Lionsgate, Bron Studios, 3 Arts Entertainment, TIK Films, Hercules Film Fund by Doug Liman, Patrick Ness, Christopher Ford.
Stars: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Demián Bichir, David Oyelowo.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Keywords: based on novel or book post-apocalyptic future dystopia
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