With America’s cinemas still out of commission it feels like some films are being released into cinemas without much fanfare, and sadly Chaos Walking is one of those. Not just sadly because it means pop culture fans are likely to miss out on two of their favourite stars on the big screen, but also sadly because this is one teenage post-apocalyptic movie that is going to appeal to people of all ages.
Set on a planet called New World, Chaos Walking finds Todd (Tom Holland – Spider-Man: Far From Home) living in a woman-less society. Raised by Ben (Demian Bichir – The Hateful Eight) and Cillian (Kurt Sutter – Sons of Anarchy), Todd has been raised to believe that all women on the planet were killed by an invading army of aliens. Now he spends the days working on the farm, trying to control his ‘Noise’ (thoughts that can be heard by others) and trying to avoid a mad priest (David Oyelowo – Selma).
Todd’s fathers become worried though when he starts to find favour with the town’s fearless Mayor (Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round), but even that relationship is put to the test when Todd is the person who finds the crashed space-craft of a young woman named Viola (Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Directed by Doug Liman, the amazing filmmaker who has brought us films such as The Bourne Identity and Edge Of Tomorrow, Chaos Walking goes far beyond your average teenage dystopian film and places itself in that elite side of the category that includes films like The Maze Runner and Divergent. Despite knowing the audience that this film is aimed at, there is something edgy about the film. Todd doesn’t mind dropping the odd profanity and when the heroes do find themselves under threat you know there is a good chance they may not get out of it alive.
The alternative nature of the film also seems to be embraced by the actors. Mads Mikkelsen brings his A-Game as he portrays a menacing Mayor with a world of secrets, while the film also exposes a side of the acting of Ridley and Holland that few would have seen before. Many people have wondered whether or not Ridley has what it takes to make a career for herself outside of Star Wars, and this is the film that suggests she certainly can.
The same can also be said for Holland. Unlike Ridley though, Tom Holland had runs on the board before the franchise that made him a household name. Anyone who watched The Impossible, a film about the tragic Boxing Day tsunami, knew that Holland was going to become a star. Here in Chaos Walking he does what he did last year with The Current War and shows that he is going to be one of Hollywood’s best actors with or without the label of a superhero behind him.
Much of what there is to like about Chaos Walking also comes to the brilliant work of Doug Liman. Just like he did with The Bourne Identity, Liman has audiences on the edge of their seat for a majority of the film, and this is a film that he had to work hard to make. There were frequent re-writes and re-shoots throughout the film, which of course caused major concerns with the busy schedules of the film’s stars, so it really is a miracle that this film has ever made it to cinemas. Those who love quality films though will be very thankful that it did.
Chaos Walking is one of the surprise hits of 2021. A step above most teenage sci-fi films, this is the kind of film that will be embraced by people of all ages and once you have seen it you will be eagerly waiting to see if they decide to make more films in the franchise.
Chaos Walking is currently screening in Phuket and is classified 15.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus