When loner Andrew (Dane Dehaan) and his much more popular cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and their charismatic friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon some sort of alien-pod thing, they’re endowed with super powers that continue to grow and evolve. As the three boys experiment with their new-found telekinetic powers, they discover that having that kind of power comes with consequences, and they’re going to have to make some tough choices.
It’s a fairly simple premise that doesn’t waste any time trying to explain away the fanatical elements of the plot. Director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis, both still in their twenties, take the found-footage phenomenon and provide a fresh twist for viewers. As the boys become more powerful, the dynamics in their relationships begin to change. This is most clear in the case of outcast Andrew, who begins to embrace his power in a way that the other two boys do not. Although the plot is fairly predictable, it’s still a very fun ride up to the movie’s slightly ridiculous climax. Fantastic special effects (especially considering the movie’s relatively low budget of $15 million) help round out this total thrill ride.
What is interesting to note is how good all three boys are in their respective roles. There is nothing more natural than the way the boys react to their new powers: first with glee, then with a sort of reckless abandon. Viewers know that things are going to get dark, but it’s impossible not to laugh along with them as they figure out how to move things, fly around, and play pranks on unsuspecting bystanders. Both Jordan and Russell are completely charismatic and likeable in their roles, but it is Dehaan who is the standout. Dehaan’s portrayal of the bullied and broken Andrew is poignant and heartbreaking, and his plight is sympathetic.
Although the film takes a noticeable stumble in its final scenes, it’s still completely enjoyable. By not focusing on the whys or the hows, the film manages to sidestep much of what would slow down the excellent pacing and compelling story. It’s surprisingly watchable and completely entertaining. Recommended.
Chronicle is out on DVD now.