Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a socially awkward, introverted teen whose main form of escape and expression is a video camera. But things begin to change when Andrew, his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), and popular classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a mysterious substance that leaves them with incredible powers. As their abilities become more powerful, the teens’ lives spin out of control when their darker sides begin to emerge. Andrew’s camera captures the unfolding events.
On this episode of “I Was Probably Too Young To Be Watching That But I Enjoyed It Anyway”, I will be discussing Josh Trank’s 2012 film Chronicle. At the time of the movie’s release, I was just eleven years old and although it did not receive an R rating, it is nevertheless a relentlessly crazy and punishing found footage science fiction action-adventure, unlike anything you will ever see.
Something I don’t see this film getting enough credit for is the incredibly intriguing world it sets up. It does take place on planet Earth, but this Earth feels extremely gritty and a little bit offputting. The science-fiction elements, while perhaps a little underexplored in certain areas, are genuinely interesting to see. The world that our lead characters live in feels grounded yet otherworldly in all the best ways.
Not to mention the fact that all of the actors portraying these characters do an absolutely terrific job. While the iconic Michael B. Jordan delivers a nuanced and heavily layered performance as Steve Montgomery, the real standout among the cast has to be Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer. At first, Andrew seems like an average teenager that has close friends even if his home situation isn’t the best seeing as how his father is an abusive alcoholic. But with each passing scene, we quickly find out that Andrew is far from normal.
While out with his best friends late one night, Andrew and his friends stumble across a strange pulsating object in the woods. Naturally curious, they touch it which seemingly grants them amazing telekinetic superpowers. The trio get up to various different shenanigans but try their best to use their powers for good. But when Andrew discovers that he has more power than he can fully realize, he starts to use them for evil.
Watching his slow descent into complete madness is not just enthralling, but it’s absolutely horrifying. DeHaan plays Andrew with amazing ease and delivers one of the greatest performances of his career as a result. His work in Chronicle is severely underrated and it honestly surprises me that not many people talk about how great of an actor he can be with the right script.
Plus, the ending of the film is essentially a non-stop tension-filled action sequence that never lets up. It does set up a sequel that we unfortunately never got, however. There have been discussions in the past few years regarding a sequel, but nothing has ever been officially announced yet, sadly.
Chronicle is not a perfect movie, however. It may sound a little bit odd, but I feel as if the film is too fast-paced. It runs at a mere eighty-three minutes, and as a result, a large portion of the story feels extremely rushed. It would have been nice to see Andrew and his friends use their powers more, or better yet, get to know more about them as people in general. As fun and exciting as the film is, the character development on display is practically non-existent. But none of that changes the fact that Chronicle is an immensely entertaining science-fiction thriller that puts a unique spin on the found-footage trope.
Chronicle is an immensely entertaining science-fiction thriller that puts a unique spin on the found-footage trope thanks to wonderful special effects and nuanced performances.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content, and teen drinking
Directed by: Josh Trank
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Running Time: 83 minutes