Chaos Walking

Tom Holland (left) and Daisy Ridley co-star in “Chaos Walking.”

It’s taken a while for “Chaos Walking” to get to theaters.

The adaptation of the novel “The Knife of Never Letting Go” finished principal photography in 2017, but between reshoots and the COVID-19 pandemic it has taken nearly four years to finally make it to the big screen.

Time has not been kind to this science-fiction vehicle. Despite the pairing of Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in the two leads, and a loaded supporting cast, this dystopian thriller is a rather dull and tepid ride – a story that seems better fitted as a novel than a theatrical event.

“Chaos Walking” takes place in the near future on an unnamed planet where settlers from Earth arrived years earlier to start a new society. Things went awry from almost the outset, with the men overtaken by a force known as “The Noise” – a phenomenon in which all of their thoughts are on display.

Todd (Holland) is a young man living with his father (Demián Bichir) in a small village run by a corrupt mayor (Mads Mikkelsen). It’s a village of all men, the result of a massacre in which the planet’s natives appeared to wipe out all women in one swoop.

Todd’s world is thrown into chaos when a spacecraft crashes and the lone survivor is a young woman named Viola (Ridley). She isn’t stricken with “The Noise” so her thoughts are secret – making her the target of the mayor and other men on the planet.

Todd agrees to help Viola navigate through the planet’s terrain to find a transmitter that might allow her to escape and reunite with her people.

“Chaos Walking” has so many things on paper that feel like they would work. Holland and Ridley have both proven they can carry big-budget blockbusters, while Mikkelsen is the ideal actor you would want to be the protagonist. Throw in Doug Liman (the man behind “The Bourne Identity,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Go”), and it just adds an ingredient that makes this seem like a slam dunk.

Yet all the talent never quite comes together. Instead of a soaring thriller, this is more of a dull slog – a predictable journey that lacks any spark.

Nothing works here no matter how hard everyone tries. The thought gimmick grows tiresome rather quickly, with everyone’s “thoughts” a parlor trick that doesn’t advance the story. It just serves as another road block.

Holland and Ridley lack the chemistry needed to make this work and the story never gets going. It all builds to a final act that leaves more questions than answers. The result is a film that is nothing short of a cinematic train wreck – a wanna-be franchise tent pole that stumbles out of the gate and never recovers.

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