Chaos Walking

Charming leads and an intriguing premise can’t save this movie from being a rushed somewhat generic young adult adventure.

Todd Hewitt, played by current Spider-man Tom Holland, is a young man who lives in a world where people’s thoughts appear floating above their heads in cgi clouds. They call it the noise. Todd is described as a young runt by the men in the village. All the women have disappeared until one day, Viola, played by Daisy Ridley, crash lands nearby in a space ship.

I love the premise. All your thoughts are on display at all times. Nowhere to hide.

Teen boy finds a girl. Maybe the only girl on the planet.

Mysterious and dark forces at work in the village drive these two out on a wild adventure.

Sign me up. The problem is the execution. The movie is based on a trilogy of young adult books and this movie ends up feeling like one of the many Hunger Games cash grabs that littered movie theaters a few years ago. I can picture the studio notes now, “make it more like Hunger Games!”

The movie is less about what it would be like to have your thoughts on display and more about what cool sci fi action stuff can you do with the noise. This person thinks about a snake, and a snake jumps out and attacks! Cool. I’d rather see what that constant exposure and lack of privacy would do to a person.

There’s a lot of running around in the woods while our heroes are chased by adults who just can’t stand that these young ones are different. Where have we seen that before?

Just like all the other young adult adventures of recent years, it has a great cast. Mads Mikkelsen is always a fantastic villain. David Oyelowo brings a bonkers intensity. Demian Belchir is great as Todd’s adoptive father. But Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley are the standouts. Tom Holland is a really terrific actor. He is open and expressive and does a great struggling to hide his true feelings. Daisy Ridley brings a nice stoicism to her role that offsets the Holland’s wide open performance. These two ring real emotion out of the few quiet moments they’re given.

The real problem I had was with the story telling. The movie needed to take its time creating this world. It took until about the halfway point before I realized the movie doesn’t take place on earth. It wasn’t supposed to be a surprise or a twist. They just never made it clear. Where does the noise come from? Who are these people? How does this world work? The movie brushes past all these questions to get to the adventure. I don’t think you can have gripping action if you don’t even know what planet you’re on.

All in all the movie isn’t terrible. It’s very watchable, and it’ll play nicely on TV some lazy Sunday. It’s not a good movie, and it’s not worth spending the money to rent it right away. Which is too bad because I really wanted to like this movie.

Not my cup of tea. B-

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