Tony Giglio’s “Chaos” is one of those movies with a twist ending that, on the surface seems to make perfect sense (not to mention providing quite the “leave the theater feeling like you got your money’s worth” vibe), but on second (or indeed any amount of further) thought is of questionable logic. For “Chaos’s” many plot twists to work, a series of circumstances must fall into place in the bad guys’ favor, circumstances they clearly have no control over. For example: A must not only lead to B, but must result in C, which is required in order to generate D, the preferred outcome. And while D is quite the satisfying conclusion, the path taken to achieve it is wrought with inconsistencies, improbable scenarios, and fortuitous luck that work in our bad guys’ favor. For such criminal masterminds as those portrayed in “Chaos”, one would think they wouldn’t leave so much to serendipitous luck.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“Chaos” stars Englishman Jason Statham (“The Transporter”) as Quentin Conners, your average maverick/cowboy/loose cannon cop who, when we first meet him, has been suspended from the force (aren’t they always?) for doing maverick/cowboy/loose cannon cop stuff. (A bridge, a rainy night, gunplay, and a dead hostage figures prominently into the film’s many twists.) After a bank robber calling himself Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) takes over a metro bank and demands Quentin’s re-instatement for reasons unknown, Quentin’s boss has no choice but to relent. Just in time, too, because Lorenz not only plans to achieve the largest (and secret) bank heist in history, but he has murderous plans for Quentin.
If you’ve seen at least two cop films in your life, you’ve no doubt seen most of “Chaos”. The film’s many plot twists aside, this is an average cop film made all the more clich’d when it turns out Quentin’s superior has teamed him up with by-the-book Detective Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe) to watch over him. Mind you, not that young Shane does any actual watching, as soon the fresh face pup has taken on his veteran partner’s highly questionable approach to policework. In fact, Shane’s shockingly swift transition from a cop who quotes Buddha to one that threatens to murder a witness as a means of interrogation is wholly unconvincing. This is made all the more dubious when we consider that “Chaos” essentially takes place over the course of one night.
“Chaos” does have one notable element: Wesley Snipes, known primarily as a heroic martial arts asskicker for much of his career, plays his first bad guy since ” New Jack City “. Here, Snipes’ Lorenz is a criminal mastermind, a role that Snipes no doubt relishes — a chance to flex his character’s brain and not just his brawn, as it were. Unfortunately, like Shane’s hasty character arc, it is eventually revealed that Lorenz wasn’t always a bad guy, and in fact he used to be a pretty good guy until a terrible event altered his outlook on life. The thing is, it’s only been a few months since this particular catharsis, and like Shane’s transition from rookie to a Martin Riggs-wannabe, it’s hard to believe that Lorenz could turn so bad so fast.
Snipes does well enough in the role, even if Lorenz doesn’t have all that much to do onscreen (though he keeps himself plenty busy off screen). I could envision “Chaos” as being a part-time gig for Snipes, one that he could fly to for one day of work out of a week in-between leading man roles in yet another direct-to-video action movie shot in Romania or other parts of Europe .
Featured more prominently are Jason Statham and Ryan Phillippe as the most unlikely (and chemistry-free, alas) cop duo since Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson teamed up to battle crime. Those who saw “Way of the Gun” won’t be surprise that Phillippe knows his way around a gun, and he’s perfectly suited for the young cop role, especially since he’ll probably still look 20 even when he’s 40. On the other hand, Statham doesn’t quite work as the grizzled veteran cop, mainly because he’s not all that grizzled looking. He did a better “world-weary” character in Guy Ritchie’s disastrously intriguing “Revolver”, but he had a heavy beard to help him. No such luck here.
Of more interest are the side characters played by Justine Waddell (“Dracula 2000″) as a Detective who is still in love with Quentin, and Henry Czerny, who has made a career out of playing smarmy asshole superior types. Nicholas Lea, formerly of “The X-Files”, barely registers as a personality, which is more the fault of the script than the actor’s. Making easily the film’s best impression is the surprisingly seductive Keegan Connor Tracy (“Jake 2.0″), playing a female Detective who drools over the prospect of bedding Shane. “For a list of things you can put in my mouth,” she tells him after stuffing her business card in his jacket pocket. Someone tell me why this woman only has one scene in the whole movie?
“Chaos” is not a bad film. In fact, it’s a reasonably good, entertaining movie with smooth pacing that keeps things from becoming dull or too talky. Action erupts suddenly and without warning, and one can’t help but wish the film had taken on a more action-oriented course instead of sticking ardently to its pretentious cerebral plot twists. Plus, the film’s final confrontation between cop and bad guy at an airport full of people begs comparisons to at least a dozen movies of similar theme made in the last 5 years. Although much of “Chaos” is too overly familiar to be highly recommended, Giglio still pulls the whole thing off with enough skill that the casual, undemanding viewer will be pleased enough not to nitpick afterwards.
Tony Giglio (director) / Tony Giglio (screenplay)
CAST: Jason Statham …. Quentin Conners
Ryan Phillippe …. Shane Dekker
Wesley Snipes …. E. Lorenz
Henry Czerny …. Capt. Jenkins
Nicholas Lea …. Vincent
Natassia Malthe …. Gina