Movie Review: Chaos Walking (2021)

Chaos Walking

I cannot remember the last time I watched a movie as disappointing as Chaos Walking. Knowing that the film is based on the popular teen novel The Knife of Letting Go, I expected an exciting dystopian story about a young man learning that his village leadership harbors secrets. The storyline, however, proves overly simplistic and lackluster, while the characters are undeveloped–as is the romance. Even some fine acting by Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland could not save the film. Chaos Walking is undoubtedly a flop.

Not having read The Knife of Letting Go, I cannot compare the book with the movie adaptation. I can say, however, that the movie made me reconsider my plans to one day read The Knife of Letting Go. Even though dystopian YA books still feel redundant, thanks to the craze for them after the release of The Hunger Games, Chaos Walking shocked me with how simple, unoriginal, and unsurprising the plot is. I knew the big twist about ten minutes into the movie. And what is the point of a dystopian novel if not to surprise readers, along with the protagonist, with some big, terrible truth about the world?

That truth, too, typically says something interesting or important about society, but if there is a message in Chaos Walking, I did not see it. In theory, one should be able to say something insightful about groupthink or mob mentality or even misogyny. But the movie never reaches far enough to provoke thought in the audience. And, in the final moment, it devolves all responsibility for tragedy onto the figure of one man, instead of saying something, too, about the men he led astray.

Chaos Walking is a slow-paced, boring film with a predictable plot and no real depth. I wanted to feel something for the characters, but they are never developed enough for audiences to really sympathize with them, their dreams, and their desires. A half-baked romance/infatuation completes the mess. I would not recommend this film for viewing, nor would I suggest that the producers try for a sequel.

1 star

20 thoughts on “Movie Review: Chaos Walking (2021)

  1. dinipandareads says:

    Oof, this sounds so cringe and disappointing! I’ve heard so many good things about the book series but I’ll definitely be skipping the movie. Is the movie a standalone? Sorry you had to experience it! 🙈


    • Krysta says:

      As far as I can tell, the movie just follows book one, but it works as a standalone. I doubt they’ll make another one because it seems to have lost money.


  2. alisoninbookland says:

    As a mega fan of the series, I can confirm that this was a train wreck. I think being stuck in production limbo for almost a decade is what did it in. Too many hand offs, too many people involved, and no one quite cared enough to do it right.

    It was a mess from start to finish and they ended things in a bad way. There’s no way for them to do a sequel (properly at least) but I think that’s best for everyone.

    I do still absolutely recommend reading the series though.


  3. Hannah says:

    Thanks for this review, I was planning on watching this movie but after reading quite a few negative reviews I’ve changed my mind!


  4. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I did not enjoy the book, so I’m not rushing to see the film. Though part of my dislike for the book was the writing style, so I did think the movie would do a better job with the story… sounds like I was wrong.


    • Krysta says:

      I assume changes were made for the film, but the overall premise doesn’t appeal to me at this point. The movie just made it seem like another dystopian where the protagonist realizes there’s a bigger world out there and his small town has secrets. Nothing about it was original enough for me to want to find out more.


  5. Hannah says:

    I recently watched this movie (being so bored during lockdown that not even the negative reviews could stop me), and although I actually didn’t find the movie good at all, the concept was so interesting I decided to read the book, ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’. And it is AMAZING. Honestly, the movie doesn’t do it justice at all, and those who watched the movie and decided not to read the book, I would really ask you to reconsider because the book is so much better than the movie..


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