Chaos Walking

Chaos Walking
Running time:109 minutes
Director:Doug Liman
Release date:16 june 2021

Review of Mulder

"The noise is a man's thoughts unfiltered, and without a filter a man is just chaos walking"
Unknow new world settler

Adapting a bestseller is a really difficult exercise in the sense that you have to transform a literary language into a visual one while proposing to incorporate enough ideas to satisfy a large audience. Chaos Walking is basically a science fiction saga for young adults written by the American-British novelist Patrick Ness. The saga takes place in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other's thoughts in a stream of images, words and sounds called noise. The series consists of a trilogy of novels and three short stories. This literary world had enough foundation to give life to a trilogy capable of competing with universes such as Hunger Games and Divergent, movies set in science fiction universes and based on a young cast.

The three novels feature characters Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, who are confronted with various moral issues and high stakes as the planet around them goes to war. The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008) showed how Todd was forced to flee his town after discovering a patch of silence, free of noise. In the second book, The Ask and the Answer (2009), tensions rise as a civil war between two opposing factions forms, and in the final book, Monsters of Men (2010), the native species of the New World rebel against humans as a ship full of new settlers is ready to arrive on the planet. The first novel is narrated entirely by Todd and included several intentional misspellings to enhance the credibility of the story.

This literary series has won nearly every major children's fiction award in the UK, including the 2008 Guardian Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and the Costa Children's Book Award. Monsters of Men won the Carnegie Medal in 2011. Such a literary success should sooner or later become a trilogy or rather in this case a single film as the result, despite the presence of the author of this universe Patrick Ness in the script, totally misses its objective and reminds us in some ways of the colossal failure that was Waterworld in the world cinema (a huge budget, numerous production problems, a result too dull which gives life to an interesting but failing aquatic Mad Max).

In a not so distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers a young woman, Viola Eade (Daisy Ridley) who has crash-landed on her planet and who is the only survivor (her parents having died during this failed docking). We discover a dystopian world where all women seem to have disappeared and all men are afflicted by a force that exposes their thoughts. Committed to protecting her, the duo must navigate dangerous terrain as Todd discovers his inner power and uncovers the planet's dark secrets, including Mayor Prentiss' (Mads Mikkelsen) past. In this world where everyone's thoughts cannot be kept confidential, young Todd Hewitt finds himself becoming a hero in spite of himself and will have to face not only the different inhabitants of his small village but also a vindictive alien. Chaos Walking, despite some science fiction elements, is mostly a failed futuristic western despite the presence of Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen and Nick Jonas.

While the first half of the film leaves one in doubt that this earth-like world is made up of only humans, we come to understand that this is a false fact as Viola and Todd's quest to find a way to communicate with Viola's acquaintances unfolds. The elements which made the fame of this universe of Patrick Ness are well present here but would have deserved a better treatment as these visual waves having to represent what thinks in their inside the characters. Chaos Walking was seductive on paper, especially with the excellent director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Barry Seal: American Traffic (American Made) (forget about the purges of Jumper (2008) and Locked down (2021)). The result is a real disappointment as the film seems to suffer from a scenario cobbled together in a hurry and not managing to give enough psychological depth to the characters.

Certainly, some scenes are successful because of certain ideas of the novel finding here a very particular echo in a period where our lives are impacted by a worldwide epidemic and a worldwide diffusion of a vaccine as well managed in England and the United States but very badly in France. By tackling themes such as the sectarian aspect of certain communities, politics, survival in a hostile environment, Chaos Walking shows that there was enough material to give life to a solid basis of a cinematographic saga. In spite of scenes that had to be added to face the first catastrophic feedbacks, this film doesn't manage to impose itself as a remarkable film of this year.

Chaos Walking
Directed by Doug Liman
Produced by Doug Davison, Allison Shearmur, Erwin Stoff, Alison Winter
Screenplay by Patrick Ness, Christopher Ford
Based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Starring Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, David Oyelowo
Music by Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts
Cinematography : Ben Seresin
Edited by Doc Crotzer
Production companies : Quadrant Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment, Allison Shearmur Productions, Bron Creative
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date : March 5, 2021 (United States), June 16, 2021 (France)
Running time : 109 minutes

Seen on April 01, 2021

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