Tom Holland is having a pretty busy year, even though it's only March and we're still in the middle of a global pandemic. Following the theatrical release of Cherry last week, Holland will next be seen in Chaos Walking with Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo. The film features the Spider-Man star as Todd, a young man who lives on a planet where all the women have disappeared and all the men are afflicted by "the Noise," a force that puts all of their thoughts on full display. Todd discovers Viola (Ridley), who is unaffected by The Noise, and because her life is threatened Todd vows to protect her, uncovering secrets along the way.
Chaos Walking was adapted from the book The Knife of Never Letting Go by author Patrick Ness. Ness shares screenwriting credits with Christopher Ford (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) directs. After multiple delays and reshoots, it's now finally being released on March 5 – only in theaters. Check out what critics have to say so far.
Sarah El-Mahmoud saw Chaos Walking for the home team here at CinemaBlend and rated it a three out of five stars. She argues that Doug Liman’s film benefited from the delays it faced (additional photography after poor test screenings and then, you know, a global pandemic). She says that it doesn’t entirely pull off its challenging concept of “The Noise.” And though Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley seem to be playing into very similar types of characters they’ve played before (Peter Parker and Rey), El-Mahmoud notes that the charismatic pair anchors the film. She continues, saying:
Chaos Walking is muddled, but it does provide an interesting story about the destructive nature of thoughts… it’s a tight dystopian concept packed with something to ponder over, but the result is middle-of-the-road.
James Whitbrook of IO9 praised Holland and Ridley for their chemistry in the film and doing the best they could with what they were given – but that’s pretty much the only thing Whitbrook enjoyed from the film. He notes that the premise of Chaos Walking is interesting, but only explored at a surface level. He says that the concept of “The Noise” is "scattershot," and that the villains are underwhelming, lacking any kind of motivation beyond simply being evil. Whitbrook criticized the film, saying:
Attempting to navigate a coherent arc through its jumbled, disjointed scenes is a frustratingly messy ask of its audience. Despite its big names, Chaos Walking’s languid energy is certainly not worth navigating.
Jesse Hassenger of Polygon also praised Holland and Ridley for their charisma, and seemed to be a bit more impressed with the film. He notes that though the filmmakers struggled with certain thematic elements and that the movie’s concepts leaves “a lot of comic potential untapped,” he found that it works in the end. Hassenger continues,
In classic unpredictable Liman fashion, this jumbled and seemingly truncated adaptation of the first book in a YA trilogy is nonetheless likable, entertaining science fiction.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter thought Chaos Walking was too “formulaic.” Though he praised the visualization of the film, he calls the villains “standard-issue sinister,” and the chemistry between Ridley and Holland lacking. Rooney writes,
Some quintessential spark is missing. The characters are uninvolving, the emotional stakes never fully take hold and the physical action invariably promises more than it delivers. The core weakness is the adaptation by Christopher Ford (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Patrick Ness… Maybe genre fans starved for large-scale sci-fi will find some appeal in the joyless journey. I couldn't get past the tiresome premise of men quite literally airing their insecurities.
Christian Holub of Entertainment Weekly has a somewhat middling opinion of Chaos Walking. He commended the special effects and visualization, noting that it is “one of the most dynamic interpretations of telepathy.” He also praised the two main villains, played by Mads Mikkelsen and David Oyelowo, noting that they bring “unhinged menace” to the film. But Holub noted that the movie underserves the female characters and that Daisy Ridley’s performance is “inherently less interesting than her male costars.” Holub continued,
As far as pandemic releases from director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) go, Chaos Walking definitely has a more interesting premise than Locked Down. But that doesn't mean you should be rushing back to theaters to see it.
Well, the reviews seem to be somewhat negative, with a twinkle of middle-of-the-road. Will moviegoers enjoy the film more than the critics? We'll have to wait until Chaos Walking is released this Friday, March 5, only in theaters.
In the meantime, check out the rest of the movies dropping this month.