Chaos Walking Is A Muddled Mess

Daisy Ridley as ‘Viola Eade,’ Manchee the dog, and Tom Holland as ‘Todd Hewitt’ in CHAOS WALKING. Photo credit: Murray Close.

Chaos Walking might be pleasing for fans of the trilogy that it is based on but for other viewers, this film is a muddled mess.

This film takes place in 2257 on a distant planet where Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) encounters Viola (Daisy Ridley).  It just so happens that Viola’s ship crashes on his planet.  It’s a very strange sci-fi film.  For one, all of the women have disappeared from the New World.  The other thing is that men have their thoughts out for open viewing.  They call this “the Noise.”  Put everything together and Viola’s own life is at stake.  Todd does what he can but it might not even be enough.

Prentisstown Mayor David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) wants to rule over the New World.  Todd’s guardians, Ben (Demián Bichir) and Cillian (Kurt Sutter), want nothing to do with Prentisstown.  In fact, they are the ones that send Todd to Farbranch, a community of farmers and is no different than an Israeli kibbutz.  Hildy Black (Cynthia Erivo) leads the Farbranch settlement and resists Prentiss and his army.  Funny enough, Mayor Prentiss sees something in Todd that he doesn’t even see in his own son, Davy (Nick Jonas).  Meanwhile, Viola holds the key to everything.  The larger mothership awaits somewhere in the atmosphere.  They will almost certainly bring about another wave of settlers but it still doesn’t help explain why the women are missing.

Watching this film reminded me of when I watched The Dark Tower in 2017.  That film was more or less a semi-sequel to the books but this is different.  It doesn’t necessarily feel like a sequel but you almost have to be familiar with the source material.  It’s unfortunate because I like Doug Liman and the cast featured in the film.  The problems aren’t necessarily on them in as much as it is the script itself.  Why are the women gone?  What is the reason for Viola crashing on this planet?  These are questions that needed to be answered early in the film.  Also, if women are supposed to have disappeared, can somebody please explain why Cynthia Erivo’s Hildy Black is still present?

Chaos Walking is certainly a mixture of sci-fi and Westerns with how the characters are dressed.  They’ve long since stopped using technology.  Visually speaking, the Noise is a big part of the film.  It can look beautiful to an extent on screen but doesn’t change how messy this film is.  At the end of the day, however, Chaos Walking is for fans of the source material.

DIRECTOR:  Doug Liman
SCREENWRITERS:  Patrick Ness and Christopher Ford
CAST:  Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter, and David Oyelowo

Lionsgate opens Chaos Walking in theaters on March 5, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.