Imagine being able to hear the thoughts of every single man on this planet. Scary right? That's the idea behind Doug Liman's latest high-concept sci-fi film, Chaos Walking, based on Patrick Ness' novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. Having the likes of Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, two familiar faces from two majorly big-hitting franchises of the past decade, at your disposal certainly brings with it a string of fans to watch however, is it a concept that translates well to film?

In the not-too-distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by "the Noise" - a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola's life is threatened - and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet's dark secrets.

First things first, Chaos Walking really does take a little while to get used to, the idea of every male having their thoughts out there for all to hear in an all-male settlement may not seem like the ideal way to start your story off, thoughts popping off left, right and centre. It's fine when a character is alone but as soon as they get into larger groups it can get a little harder to work out who's actually saying something and who's thinking it. 

It's not long though until it becomes a lot clearer and the films avoids becoming an irritant of its own doing, moving fast into a narrative of adventure and mystery that makes it an entertaining slice of sci-fi cinema. The action is mostly handled well, if choppily edited at times, and it all ties to the suspicious history of the New World that Todd has been raised in without feeling forced. 

One thing I would say about the narrative is that it's not one too hard to predict as it progresses however, there's still plenty of opportunity to have fun with it. It's disappointing though amongst all the sci-fi action, Marco Beltrami's work on the score feels rather forgettable.

Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley are game in their roles that demand a lot of physicality and manage to make the most of the weak script given to them. Their chemistry is a little questionable however, when you realise she's a total stranger to this world and he's never seen a girl before, it works in line with the narrative that there wouldn't be sparks flying from the off. David Oyelowo is one of the more interesting supporting characters but his radical preacher isn't developed enough to become anything but a gimmick in places while Mads Mikkelsen doesn't get enough screen-time to showcase the villain we know he can be, his glorious fur coat stealing the show.

Chaos Walking certainly delivers on chaos but there's definitely not a lot of walking, paper-thin characters pelting it through each scene as if there's no tomorrow. The writers maybe could have allowed the characters to walk before they could run, one of the reasons why I feel this franchise won't be taking-off anytime soon.

Verdict: ★★★


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