In the near(ish) future, it’s all gone a bit dystopian – young Todd (Holland) lives on a planet where all the women have died and the men are affected by ‘the Noise’ – all their thoughts are expressed out loud and put on display.
When Viola (Ridley) crash lands there, Todd decides to protect her (well, he’s never seen a girl before so he’s a bit interested in this new creature), but with his every thought and appearing as an image above his head as if he was a character in a Looney Tunes cartoon, that means going on the run from his settlement and all the other men he knows. Oh, and where they are going there might be aliens, too.
Based on an award-winning Young Adult novel (the first of a trilogy), this had the potential to rival The Hunger Games and Divergent films but the pacing doesn’t quite work and the script fails to engage at any level.
While the idea that the men can see/hear each other’s thoughts is a fascinating one (even if Todd’s thoughts are mainly along the lines of ‘Girl!’ ‘Yellow hair!’ and ‘Pretty!’), it’s quite confusing as some of the men either don’t think anything at all or the filmmakers seem to have forgotten about them, others think too much so some scenes are just a gaggle of voices, and it is never quite explained how Mikkelsen’s sinister Mayor Prentiss can seemingly hide his Noise at will from everyone else.
Mikkelsen is, as you’d expect, hugely enjoyable, and the best scenes involve Holland and Ridley on the run as they have nice chemistry together. Erivo and especially Oyelowo (as a confused preacher named Aaron) are woefully underused – and none of the cast, no matter how skilled, can rise above the rather dumb script that telegraphs everything to the audience before it happens.
You’ll figure out the plot reveals way before they occur, and laugh at the seemingly tacked-on ending, then feel disappointed that what should have been a great movie has turned out to be an average, and rather forgettable one.
Is Chaos Walking suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a 12A and does feature characters being wounded/shot.
SPOILER: Sensitive viewers may be upset when a beloved animals is killed later in the movie.
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