Thinking out loud

Mick Ferris
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CHAOS WALKING (12, 110 minutes)

There’s a point early on in this adaptation of Patrick Ness’s trilogy of sci-fi novels for young adults where Tom Holland’s character Todd asks himself: “Could I actually die from boredom here?”

In the year 2557, a group of settlers from Earth are living on a planet they have christened New World. But this community lives in conditions closer to a cross between a muddy 18th century frontier town and some weird men only cult led by a self proclaimed “mayor” on horseback (Mads Mikkelsen).

Although this distant planet looks more like a location for series 5 of Outlander, an unfortunate side effect of the alien environment is that every thought, no matter how fleeting, is broadcast out loud from a smokey version of a cartoon thought bubble above the men’s heads. It’s known as The Noise.

But where are the women?

The arrival of a bleached blonde Daisy Ridley – looking more like Harley Quinn than Rey from Star Wars – the only survivor of a scouting party from a giant spacecraft carrying a second wave of 4,000 settlers, threatens the status quo of the community as hidden truths (how secrets have been kept when they can’t keep anything to themselves is anyone’s guess) are revealed.

To say this film had a troubled gestation would be an understatement. Numerous directors had been attached to the project before Edge Of Tomorrow’s Doug Liman finally got the call and extensive reshoots were ordered after it was considered “unreleasable”.

Basically this is a salvage job and it looks like it.

Chaos Walking is the story of America, right down to the displacement of an indigenous race, but with a big spaceship, a couple of slugs and a one armed alien (although, as Ridley points out, on this world we’re the aliens) thrown in for good measure.

The actors do their best with the material they have, but what could have been a rich vein for storytelling got lost somewhere in translation.

To answer Todd’s initial question, probably not, but there are better things to do with just sort of two hours.

RATING: 5/10


Mick Ferris

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