Let’s use our mind reading powers to offer up three films you can watch instead of Chaos Walking.
Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley team up this weekend for Doug Liman’s latest science fiction flick, Chaos Walking. The film looked interesting on paper, especially when noted eccentric Charlie Kaufman was originally writing the screenplay…but the film has been having problems ever since, to say the least. To hedge our bets, here’s three films to have as a fallback plan.
Chaos Walking (2021)
A young man must protect a mysterious woman in a dystopian world where all the females have disappeared, and a mysterious “Noise” broadcasts the survivors thoughts out loud.
Where to begin? This project has had a platoon of writers. It saw its original release date pushed back repeatedly. It caught the dreaded re-shoots syndrome, and despite that, critics still say it is a muddled mess. So I think we’re probably safe saying there are better options for you to watch this weekend.
The Doug Liman Pick: Go (1999)
A comedy of errors brings together a motley assortment of people at 3 am on Sunset Boulevard: a struggling cashier, two soap opera actors in a clandestine relationship looking to score ecstasy, a pair of pissed off strip club bouncers, and a disreputable narcotics detective.
Doug Liman, known for his Jason Bourne movies, got his start punching out cult classics like Swingers and Go. It’s kinda a shame he rarely does these quirky, character-driven comedies anymore.
Go uses a clever storytelling mechanic you usually only see in mystery films: the film tells the same events through the eyes of several different characters, showing you how such a mixed up bunch of people wound up being thrown together by a string of absurdities. Each time you think you have got the connections figured out, we jump to another perspective and you’re scrambling to sort out the pieces again. It’s a great trick and really makes repeat viewings of the film a treat. Top it off with a cast as eclectic as the characters they play and fantastic dialogue, and Go earns its cult classic status.
The “Stranger in a Strange Land” Pick: Wristcutters – A Love Story (2006)
A film set in a strange afterlife way station that has been reserved for people who have committed suicide. Zia, who killed himself over a girl, has his mundane afterlife thrown into chaos when the object of his affection kills herself too and winds up in the same place.
Wristcutters is one of those rare movies willing to challenge taboos and be unabashedly odd. There’s a lot of dark comedy (our protagonists have a romantic beach rendezvous only to discover by day that the beach is covered in condoms and discarded needles) and sardonic musings on metaphysics, as well as some really cheeky rules to the afterlife that highlight the absurdity of how we imagine the afterlife and purgatory (miracles can occur in this place…so long as the recipient isn’t excited about the results.)
It’s a weird as hell movie. It’s like Kafka, Kevin Smith, and Ingmar Bergman all decided to get really stoned and talk about the meaning of life and modern dating. It starts out as a satire, then turns into road trip movie, and a romcom breaks out in the middle, and Tom Waits and Will Arnett play competing religious leaders whose fight over a dog threatens to separate our new lovers…and a bunch of other stuff happens as well. Like I said, weird as hell, but in a good way.
The Mind Reader’s Pick: Red Lights (2012)
Red Lights is a movie with almost as much drama behind it as Chaos Walking. The film was slated for theatrical release before the studio got cold feet and opted to go right to home release…until they once again reversed themselves due to blow-back and agreed to a limited release.
I can sort of understand the dithering; the film is a bit of a chaotic mess in places. Fortunately, it has a lot of ambition thanks to director Rodrigo Cortes’ screenplay and a ludicrously talented cast. In addition to the leads, we also have Toby Jones, Adriane Lenox, and Elizabeth Olsen in supporting roles. The characters are mostly well written and as interesting as the plot itself.
The film is a cat and mouse thriller where the tension comes from the question is De Niro really a supernaturally powerful figure, or a dangerous con man willing to kill to keep his secret? The movie manages to keep both sides viable for longer than expected, and it allows for the characters to have a lot of depth.