REVIEW / FILM OPINION – After a production punctuated by galleys, “Chaos Walking” finally reaches our eyes. Deprived of theatrical release, is the film carried by Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley the failure that we could fear?
An adaptation to hectic production
Chaos Walking is the kind of film that leaves with a penalty even before its release, because we have heard of the problems that have plagued its conception. Robert Zemeckis was first considered to stage this adaptation of Chaos on the move by Patrick Ness. It was finally Doug Liman who found himself at the head of operations. The shots were completed in 2017 but catastrophic returns during test screenings alerted producers.
The film went through reshoots to rectify the situation. Except that Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley were taken by important projects (Spider-Man: Far From Home for the first, The Rise of Skywalker for the second). It was only after their respective schedules allowed them that the new shots took place. Doug Liman was then replaced, on this occasion, by Fede Alvarez. So much commotion does not inspire much confidence.
After all these galleys, there was a reason for hope with a theatrical release announced for August 4 in France. But Metropolitan preferred to reverse this decision, opting instead for a digital purchase release. Its mode of distribution remains a secondary data when judging the film, even if it will still take into account its many problems during the design to possibly find extenuating circumstances in case of failure.
A world without women
The plot takes place in a future where there are only men left in the New World. A war against aliens decimated the population and all the women died at the same time. Todd, a young boy from a village, meets a woman, Viola, the only survivor of a ship crash. He will then understand that he has lived in a lie for all this time and will find himself embarked on a dangerous adventure.
Without revealing all the contours of the plot, Chaos Walking does not touch on anything more than the place of women in a society where men want to control everything. As is often the case, science fiction is a pretext to deal with an issue that echoes our time. Thus, the bad men want to get their hands on the fleeing girl and a hero who is not really one will set himself up as her savior. This basic idea, which indeed finds a resonance with our time, lacks a real treatment. The only slightly interesting find comes when you understand why women can’t make Noise (a physical and aural representation of the thoughts the characters don’t speak).
The universe of Chaos Walking hardly exist
This Bruit, moreover, is surely the only idea that allows the universe to have a little originality. Used mainly as a comic mechanism, it becomes more attractive when it makes it possible to create imitations of the characters, as is often the case in the last act, or when it is at the service of emotion. For the rest, the universe of Chaos Walking damn lacking in flavor. The film has no visual consistency in the presentation of the New World, with excessive vegetation as a hide-and-seek. When Viola and Todd escape into nature, we expect the film to carry us around in pleasant or exotic settings. It is not, everything has already been seen and reviewed.
The worst, despite this deficiency, is that Chaos Walking does not have the slightest spectacular magnitude. The few action scenes are flat because they do not carry any great stake and the staging in no way elevates this emptiness by formal ideas. Even when the climax arrives, we have the impression of seeing a scene from a first act, an appetizer before moving on to more serious things. Yes Chaos Walking was condensed, it would serve as a good start to an adventure story. As it stands, with almost 1h40 on the clock, it’s a long walk in the forest, disappointing as a spectacle and even more so as a parable on the condition of women.
A cast that does what it can
More than the reshoots, we especially want to incriminate the scenario to justify this failure. Caught between good intentions and a desire to set up a universe to be extended (a single alien appears, in a useless scene), the film does not find any balance and does not display the slightest hint of personality. Tom will be saved from the shipwreck …