It’s been a long road to the screen for Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking, which was at one point a movie we were looking forward to seeing in 2019. But with the release of the first trailer, it seems like maybe it’s actually a real film!
Chaos Walking is adapted from Patrick Ness’s 2008 YA novel The Knife of Never Letting Go (a more poetic title, but somewhat less immediately dramatic). Todd Hewett (Tom Holland) lives with his adoptive parents in a small town on a distant, colonized world. Prentisstown is inhabited only by men—all of whom can hear each other’s every thought, a phenomenon known as “the Noise” that is caused by a germ native to the planet.
When a girl named Viola (Daisy Ridley) crash-lands near their town, Todd is baffled: He’s never seen a girl before. But her existence is even weirder than that—she has no noise. Viola’s presence is seen as a threat by Mayor Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen), and a lot of chasing and running and discovering of secrets ensues.
In 2016, Daisy Ridley’s role in Chaos Walking was announced, and principal photography reportedly wrapped on the film the following year. In 2018, though, the film was set to undergo major reshoots, with Patrick Ness coming on board to write the new screenplay pages. He joined a long list of screenwriters reported to have worked on the film, including Charlie Kaufman. At the moment, IMDb only lists Ness and Christopher Ford (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as credited screenwriters.
Reshoots aren’t always a bad sign, and neither is a passel of screenwriters, but it’s a bit worrying that all these changes and delays have led to a trailer that feels a little more more Maze Runner than Hunger Games. The Knife of Never Letting Go is an intense, affecting, award-winning book, and Ness brilliantly renders the overwhelming feeling of experiencing everyone else’s thoughts—and the strange silence of Viola. (In the novel, Tom and Viola are 12 and 14, and I’m not entirely sure aging them up this much will work as well.)
Chaos Walking also stars David Oyelowo, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas (as the mayor’s truly awful son!), and Demián Bichir. There’s no exact release date, but the trailer crows it will be “one worldwide movie event” sometime in 2021.