Based on Patrick Ness’ best-selling sci-fi trilogy, this adaptation of the first book – 2008’s The Knife of Never Letting Go – features lots of walking and not enough chaos. It’s a dystopian dud that follows a young man (Tom Holland) who lives in a world without women, where all living creatures can hear each other’s unfiltered thoughts in streams of images and sounds called “Noise”. Things get chaotic when a woman (Daisy Ridley) crash-lands on the planet.
The strange conceit and its inherent cinematic potential is rich with promise, all of it wasted by a cripplingly conventional approach that barely scratches the surface of what makes the books so compelling. It avoids any attempt at a more courageous approach that would have benefitted the film’s charismatic cast, which includes Mads Mikkelsen, Cynthia Erivo and David Oyelowo, who all try their level best with the dull material they’re given. You’d do well to ignore this depressingly generic retread of the Young Adult genre’s shopworn tropes.
Chaos Walking / Directed by Doug Liman (US, 2021), with Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Cynthia Erivo. Starts July 1.