Chronicle could have been a superhero film as it depicts the newfound ability of telekinesis in three teenagers, only they don’t choose to be superheroes. And that simple fact is highly refreshing for this movie.
Steve (Michael B. Jordan), Matt (Alex Russell) and his cousin Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a social outcast, stumble upon a weird substance in a tunnel while attending a rave. Within a few weeks, it’s discovered they have the ability to move objects, including themselves, with their minds. A power that intensifies over time, starting with lego blocks and expanding to larger objects such as cars.
This film is presented as found footage, which in itself continues to grow as its own type of movie format. However, rather than relying on the perspective of just one person, we see things from two different cameras. Andrew’s, as a way of self-protection from his abusive father (Michael Kelly) and occasionally from Casey’s (Ashley Hinshaw), a girl from school who often videorecords everyday events for her video blog. The filming from these two cameras is placed together chronologically for this film, which in a way might be cheating but for the purposes of telling the story, it will do.
There are elements of the story that could have been explored, should director and writer Josh Trank, along with co-writer Max Landis have decided to do so. The source of their newfound powers was never explored other than later discovering the tunnel itself had caved in and was blocked off by the police. Instead, the focus is mostly on Andrew and his instability as a result of both his home and social life. Dane DeHaan explores that character on an intimate level as we see him slowly losing control while realizing just how powerful he can be. This once again reveals that human nature presented on film is fascinating. And, as I thought following the film, how such an ability can have different consequences depending on the person carrying them.
One of the strongest aspects of the film, other than DeHaan, is the realism in the storyline. As I mentioned before, this could have been a superhero movie. But it isn’t. It takes into account the likelihood that would apply to most of us, should we ever discover ourselves to be able to move objects with our minds, that as teenagers we would most likely use those powers to excel ourselves first before deciding that maybe, just maybe, we can use them to help others. Whether that means in typical superhero fashion, or by breaking into banks and stealing money to pay hospital bills.