2 out of 5 stars
With Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland in the lead roles, most people could care less about the person behind the camera. Director Doug Liman has had a roller coaster of a career from the independent hit Swingers to the infamous Mr & Mrs Smith to the unexpected cult classic, Edge of Tomorrow. With his eclectic career, one thing that can be said about this artist is that he is willing to take risks and try new forms of storytelling. Which should set him up to be the perfect choice for the adaptation of Patrick Ness’ trilogy that began with the dystopian world of The Knife of Never Letting Go. Unfortunately, Liman came in on the process after multiple rewrites and directorial considerations, which left him with a bit of production chaos to contend with in the end.
We are left with the introduction of the New World, where humanity has begun afresh by colonising a planet that has a significant difference from Earth. The atmosphere causes all men to be inflicted with Noise. An affliction that causes all of their thoughts to be heard audibly to all who come near them. Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) has always thought that this was due to a germ passed on from the local indigenous creatures called the Spackle. Along with another devastating side-effect, this virus led to the death of all of the women of Prentisstown. So, when a starship crash lands in the forest outside of the town and the sole survivor is a woman named Viola (Daisy Ridley), it causes quite a stir in the testosterone-driven community.
Todd must determine what to do with the young woman's bizarre discovery and looks to Mayor David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) for direction. He discovers that the leader has ill-intent for Viola, which leads him to escape with the female fugitive to another human settlement. During their journey across the countryside, they must confront the elements, the Spackle and attempt to stay ahead of the posse led by the Mayor. As the pair builds trust between one another, they uncover clues to Todd's misunderstood history throughout his life. They realise that their quest is to do more than to reconnect with Viola’s starship. These young people must do all they can to help save the future of human society.
As a concept, Patrick Ness has set the stage for a brilliant twist on various genres and the inclusion of the Noise makes for a fascinating narrative element. His world brings together a dystopian society with a neo-western context that has potential oozing over the edges of this story. Yet, this film seems to have suffered from too many different creative talents having their hands in the works. A reality that led to a disjointed and less than satisfying end product.
Some characters come and go without explanation, while others are introduced then serve no purpose. David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom) is presented as the violently judgemental priest, but his character becomes more laughable than vicious. Still, his role seems to have some value, unlike the ridiculously underutilised Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), who appeared to be forgotten amongst the cast. Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland attempt to make their connection justified and believable. Still, even they seem to be left with little awareness of where things are going in this discombobulating cross-country trek.
Unfortunately, the rest of the trilogy will not be given any hope of being made, unless Netflix picks up the rights and reboots this series. The title should be flipped around and it could be described as walking into chaos. Even though the sum of its parts should provide audiences with a wonderful new franchise, this multi-layered tale manages to fold in on itself. Which crushes any possibility of this new world having any future.
REEL DIALOGUE: What would you do if you could not keep secrets?
During the lead characters' relational development, they determine that one could keep secrets while the other’s thoughts were perpetually on display. Both sides of this relationship struggled with this less-than-subtle nuance. There is value in speaking the truth, but knowing everything about someone else can be overwhelming. While on the other hand, the notion of secrets can be a disconcerting aspect of any human connection.
In this world that has become more and more interconnected, it has become less obvious who we can trust. Or know who is the bearer of truth and justice. The government, schools and even churches have proven to be suspect when it comes to trust. Thankfully, there is one place that the truth can still be found. Not to sound cliched, but the Bible does provide answers to this question and more. Within this historical text’s pages, one can discover considerations about secrets, trust, and truth.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32