Review: Run as far away as possible from 'Chaos Walking'

Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley star in sci-fi stinkbomb

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Well they got the "Chaos" part right. 

"Chaos Walking" is a disaster, a sci-fi calamity that casts serious doubt on the starpower of Tom Holland and his capabilities outside of his Spidey suit. His co-star, Daisy Ridley, gets off a bit easier, but both should be looking to expunge this fiasco from their permanent records as quickly as possible.

Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in "Chaos Walking."

Just seconds in, it's obvious the enterprise isn't going to work. "Chaos Walking" exists in the future on a far-off planet — it's referred to only as "the New World" — where people's thoughts are visible in transparent clouds that circle their heads whenever they're thinking. This "noise," as it's called, is readable to anyone who is nearby, and this reality is rendered to the viewer by every character's internal and external monologues running simultaneously. Are we having fun yet?

Todd Hewitt ("Spider-Man's" Holland) is a young man who has grown up in the New World who has never before seen a female, because also no women exist in the New World. When a spaceship crash lands in the woods just outside his settlement, Todd discovers it contains a woman, Viola Eade ("Star Wars'" Ridley), which sends his noise into overdrive.

Todd and Viola team up to try and bring Viola back to safety, and he also envisions kissing her a lot, which she sees, because his thoughts are basically a movie playing in front of his face. (She has no noise because women don't have noise. Got it? Let's move on.)  

They're chased on their journey by the townspeople, including the mayor (Mads Mikkelsen), who wears fur to let you know he's the mayor, the mayor's son (Nick Jonas) and a preacher (David Oyelowo) who has a particular distaste for dogs. (Consider this a trigger warning for pup lovers.) 

"Chaos Walking" is a downhill slide where neither the concept nor the execution ever level themselves; if you don't buy into the concept or presentation of "noise" — and it's a difficult leap — nothing that follows is going to render. 

Further, Holland doesn't have the charisma or chops to pull off a believable hero role, and his scenes with Ridley exist in a chemistry vacuum. Director Doug Liman, who also stumbled with his COVID experiment "Locked Down," hits a wall early that he can never climb or otherwise get around. It all adds up to a lot of noise that's best to just tune out.


'Chaos Walking'


Rated PG-13: for violence and language

Running time: 108 minutes

In theaters