“Chaos Walking” fails to reach potential and audience


Photo by Murray Close

Critics’ opinions often decide whether I will watch a movie, and after seeing the 21% on Rotten Tomatoes, I was not looking forward to sitting through this two-hour long film. I went into the theater with my expectations on the floor. “Chaos Walking,” however, was surprisingly moderate. 

“Chaos Walking” begins with Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) as he goes through his daily life on a new planet with an intriguing aspect: everyone’s thoughts are broadcast through a concept called the “noise.” Everything was normal until a spaceship fell from the sky with a woman named Viola (Daisy Ridley) inside; you would think the spaceship is the more interesting part of this event, but for a town where there are no women, Viola is the main attraction. 

Viola runs away and hides in the shed of Todd’s family farm. The rest of the town begin to search for her with violent intentions. Todd then takes Viola and they run to a neighboring town in hopes to contact Viola’s main ship in space. The movie follows their journey to contact the ship while evading the violent chasers, all while Todd deals with seeing a woman for the first time and her lack of “noise.”

The movie has the setup to be successful: great actors, an established director, an original concept and a popular book to refer to. Maybe all of this potential is why the critics seem overwhelmingly disappointed with the film. The movie is plagued with various plot holes. Why are men’s thoughts shared aloud while women’s are not? Why are there aliens we see once, but have no relevance for the rest of the film? Why can Todd picture women from the past if Viola is the first woman he has ever seen? The list goes on. 

Had there been more explanation, I think the film would have performed better. It wasn’t all bad though. I never found the “noise” annoying or distracting, visually or audibly. It was well integrated into the story, and by the end of the film, “noise” was just a normal thing to me. 

I thought the chemistry between the two leads was strong. I actually found myself laughing at some of the awkward encounters that came from Todd’s cringey thoughts. The dynamic between Todd and Viola is what saved the movie in my opinion; while the other actors were not poor, they didn’t really add any to the enjoyment of the film. 

Pacing was another issue I had with the film. I understand the directors don’t want to make a three-hour-long movie, but they can’t kill someone within the first ten minutes and expect the audience to care. The beginning of the movie struggles with a severely rushed plot and underdeveloped characters. It picks up as the movie progresses, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something. 

The movie was two-faced. At some moments, I found myself enjoying the compelling acting of Holland and Ridley and at others, I questioned the obvious plot holes. Production of the movie was clearly affected by the pandemic with the release date being pushed back, but I can’t help but agree with some of the critics. The movie underperformed. I did, however, find it enjoyable, something the critics failed to do. 

Even with its flaws, I found myself interested in the characters, curious about the world and semi-invested in the story. For a film with a decreasing score on Rotten Tomatoes, I would say I’m impressed. I think the average viewer would see the issues with the movie, but ultimately enjoy it. Every movie you watch doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. Sometimes, you just want a quick escape from the world, and “Chaos Walking” provides that.