I had the wonderful opportunity to spot Chronicle during a trial of one of the numerous premium channels available and immediately had to watch it. It was a movie I had first caught a glimpse of in some random trailer in the theaters, and I remember wanting to catch it… and then it just kind of disappeared. No one talked about it, and eventually it became a forgotten goal.
It all starts with a mysterious hole. No, really. During a wild high school party, Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is convinced to slip down a strange hole with friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and cousin Matt (Alex Russell) where they find some awesome-looking and unexplainable crystalline object. It immediately sends out an alien-like aura, but other than what it causes, it is never explained. Suddenly, all three teenagers develop telekinesis, and this is where the fun of the movie starts.
What is so attractive about this movie is the fact that it does not begin seriously. What would you do if you suddenly developed the ability to move things with your mind? You move shit like a badass! And that is exactly what these three guys do. It is all very simplistic, and the events that happen are not overdone. It provides plenty of fun!
But it is obvious from the beginning that Andrew has a dark side. He is the tortured, misunderstood kid at school. He does not really fit in, and the only person he shows true affection to is his dying mother. Andrew’s inner struggle is what pulls the movie into a gripping tale of darkness, and the switch from the lighthearted first half of the movie is absolutely electrifying. While watching everything take place, I knew that Andrew would eventually snap, but seeing it happen, and seeing such anger from a character that I sincerely liked was extremely moving. I did not know whether to hate him or feel sorry for him.
That decision is what Matt wars with as he succumbs to the fact that he is the only person that can possibly stop Andrew’s devastating rampage. It is heartbreaking to watch him attempt to reach out toward his cousin, and when he is finally forced to kill Andrew (in a particularly striking way), there was no sense of satisfaction or victory from it. In fact, all that is felt is horrible loss. And that feeling sticks with you.
The main thing that worked so well in this movie was the perfect way the characters acted with each other. Although I was unsure about them in the beginning, the three really mesh well together, and they are actually likeable!
Dane DeHaan did a wonderful job as the tortured Andrew (Let me also point out the fact that I think he looks like an awesome young Luke Skywalker). His transition into the villain (or victim)—while obvious—was still shocking. It was not overdone. It was not a sob story. It was a realistic hammering against a poor kid’s weak stability. I normally do not hold much sympathy for characters such as Andrew, but it was difficult not to like him.
Watching these three guys bond over something as insane as telekinesis was a fun experience. When things were good, they were good, but when everything begins to fall apart, it falls apart hard, and these characters respond to that in a very convincing way.
Steve’s death was sudden and unexpected, and it was the perfect cliff for Andrew to fall off of. He recognized the anger inside of himself, and he liked it. He liked the fact that he held power over everyone, including Matt who was the consistent voice of reason throughout the film. Alex Russell did an amazing job during the climax. I knew what had to be done as soon as Andrew began taking his anger out on the town. I knew that Matt would have to be the one to strike the final blow, but Matt’s struggle between seeing the good in his cousin and stopping him was palpable.
And when Andrew is finally killed, there is this undeniable feeling of emptiness. Many people see Andrew as the villain, and in a way, so do I. But it is also easy to see him as the victim in this tale. He was weak in all the right places.
There is not too much to say about the graphics despite the content. Nothing was overdone or corny while the guys used their powers. Even seeing them throw a football while flying through the clouds was a realistic experience. Surprisingly, the camera work is perfect for this film. Unlike the shaky first person P.O.V. movies like Cloverfield, there is not much jumping around and quick shots that could normally disorient the viewer.
But the entire movie is not shot on just a hand-held point of view. As things escalate in the movie, views switch between surveillance cameras, cell phone video, and events on the news. It does an awesome job at raising the suspense toward the end of the movie.
While the first half of the film is all jokes and fun, Chronicle is a solid movie with fantastic interaction between the three main characters, believable scenarios, a suitable pace, and a striking story that will leave you staring in awe at the screen long after the end credits start rolling. It is easily one of my favorite movies, and I recommend it to anyone with eyes.