Chaos Walking (2021)

Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) is the youngest resident of a town full of men, and we’re told early on that all the women were killed by the native, alien species of the planet they have tried to colonise, so he may well be the last. The real strangeness of this world, though, is that everyone’s thoughts are audible to everyone else, all the time: their ‘Noise’ is something some learn to control better than others.

When a scouting ship for the ‘Second Wave’ of colonists crash lands, the only survivor is Viola (Daisy Ridley). How will Todd react to not only seeing a female for the first time, but also the first time he’s ever met anyone whose thoughts are closed off to him – because as it turns out, only men have ‘Noise’?

When the town mayor (Mads Mikkelsen) sees this second wave as more of a threat than a blessing, Todd’s instant infatuation with Viola leads him to help her escape – but finding out there’s somewhere else to escape to is almost the biggest shock of all.

There’s no doubt that Big Efforts have been made to bring this adaptation of Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go (which I’ve not read, but apparently this is a ‘loose’ reworking) to the big screen – and they’ve even managed to not do too badly with the concept of audible thought ‘Noise’, hard as that must have been. The movie looks great, with its fairly familiar mix of sci-fi and almost Western, pioneer-life settlements.

And… hmm, that’s about all the positives I can come up with! Biggest flaw is almost certainly the ending – no spoilers, but it all felt very “is that it?” Perhaps a sequel was expected, like the books? If it is, then I can’t find any mention of it.

Unfortunately, this largely feels like a wasted effort, with a strong cast but little character development, decent cinematography but almost no world-building. Sure, there’s a bit of talking-exposition later on, but I was no where near invested enough to really care. And all of the big questions – what on earth is Noise, why does it only affect men, etc etc – are swerved utterly.

It’s by no means awful, but in the end it left me feeling like it was all a bit of a waste of time. Ymmv, of course – if you do decide to check it out, I don’t think you’ll hate it, but whether you can muster any more of a ‘meh’ than I did is debatable!

Released: 2nd April 2021
Viewed: 2nd April 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 5/10

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