US Rating: Rated R for Violence and Language
Film Length: 106 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 Surround Sound
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
The Film - out of
Wesley Snipes has had a rough time of it of late. His films relegated to being shot in low-cost eastern European locations and, at least in the US, passed over for theatrical releases in favor of the direct-to-video outlet. In Chaos, a film that was in the can for almost four years before it made its way into our hands, Wesley Snipes shares the screen with two actors, Jason Statham and Ryan Phillipe, that haven’t suffered the same fate of missing theatrical runs, until now and doesn’t get the chance to change his standing.
After a hostage situation on a bridge goes bad, Detective Quentin Conners (Jason Statham) is reamed in the media. His partner is fired from the force and Conners is put on suspension. When a bank heist appears to go wrong in downtown Seattle, Washington, the mastermind inside the bank (Wesley Snipes) insists upon only one thing, that the person he deals with be the disgraced Detective Conners. Conners is reinstated and assigned the case, but with a young upstart chaperone, Det. Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe) there to keep an eye on him. The plan to execute a rescue of the many hostages in the bank takes a turn for the worse and what ensues is quite an elaborate game of cat chasing mouse-chasing cat throughout the Seattle landscape.
Written and directed by Tony Giglio, Chaos isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a very good one. Consigned to a direct-to-video release, the film lacks the polish we selfishly expect from theatrical releases, but that isn’t where the problems lie. For every step forward the film takes, with regards to style, originality or just plain entertainment, it takes one and a half steps back. A few sleek camera shots are undone by poor or inconsistent lighting; a few good plot twists are upset by glaring weaknesses in the script and some enjoyable performance moments are kicked in the shins by a slew of weak peripheral characters and poor actors filling their shoes.
The main issue that pulls Chaos into the realm of mostly forgettable action-thrillers is the script. Some of the language used struts rather than delivers, weighed down by an abundance of witless machismo and a thin attempt at striking a philosophical tone. I’ll admit that I was entertained by the film, but a curiosity about whether the film will lead down the path it appears to be headed or if it will conjure a surprise twist beyond the norm, doesn’t really constitute a success.
I like the major players in Chaos, but all have achieved far greater success and portrayed similar and far better characters than those seen here. Jason Statham is perhaps the most disappointing. Having gruffly charmed the world as Turkish in the superb Snatch he has been consistently hit and miss ever since (His role in the Transporter films being guilty pleasures through and through). In Chaos, he dons his less than impressive American accent and tries hard to make Detective Conner’s a pissed off and slightly mean man that you root for anyway. But it doesn’t always work. Ryan Phillippe was incredibly good in last year’s Breach, where he played a fresh-faced, highly intelligent officer of the intelligence community with a propensity to figure things out. In Chaos he is working with just about the same frame, only without the script or peer performances to make all that much with what he has.
Lastly we have Wesley Snipes. His bad days outnumber his good, but when he’s good, he is really good. No matter where the franchise went, his Blade character was enormously satisfying and on the dramatic side, his turn in Disappearing Acts proved that he was more than just some muscle with a pretty face. And who can forget his powerful performance in New Jack City. In Chaos, he seems a man unhappy with the cinematic world he has found himself in (or blackballed to). Even when the films around him weren’t that great (The Art of War, Passenger 57) he somehow made them fun because he himself appeared to be having a good time. In Chaos, he seems uncomfortable as the ‘criminal’ mastermind, and seems a long way from the movie heights that he has enjoyed.
Chaos starts off well but quickly loses steam, ultimately promising more than it can deliver. Movies don’t need sleek production values and expensive budgets to be great, but they do require exciting and tight scripts with performances that bring out every inch of that top-notch screenplay. Alas, Chaos has neither.
Chaos is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen televisions. The image is mostly bland, absent of any vibrancy and without any stylized de-saturation – it washes across the screen with a muted feel. It was less than inspiring with night scenes that come appear murky, sky and city shots that are grainy and, if it were not for some crispness present, would be a total disappointment.
With both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio option, Chaos has a few scenes that really bowl through the speakers. Requisites of an entertaining action movie, such as smashes, crashes, gunshots and fist fights, rumble the bass and whiz in the surrounds, but at all other times, there isn’t much going on. The center channel in particular is an issue, with uneven dialogue levels that were distracting at times.
Passable but absolutely nothing special.
Commentary with Director Tony Giglio – The writer/director discusses the genesis of the story, building a plot around a bank robbery. I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary – an earnest and frank commentary with plenty of good insight into the production, fun details from the process of filming and even some perspective on working with Wesley Snipes and the less that real reputation that he has around Hollywood. Tony Giglio is clearly a man who knows the technical and storytelling techniques required to make a good movie. I have to believe that it isn’t simply the less than perfect script that holds this film back, but the budget constraints and weakness in the peripheral actors, because listening to Tony Giglio, I get the sense that this is a writer/director who has much more and better things in him.
”The Order Behind Chaos” - Featurette - (12:21) – This extra features interviews with writer/director Tony Giglio and actor Wesley Snipes with plenty of clips from the film. Its good hearing from Tony Giglio – his enthusiasm for the film makes me want to watch the film again, even though I wasn’t exactly impressed with it.
Sneak Peaks – Trailers for other Lionsgate pictures: Crank, War, Shattered and The Condemned.
I wish I could say that Chaos was worth the time and money needed to watch it. I wish I could say that it was at least a good entry into the library of direct-to-video movies, but it just doesn’t deliver the goods to be counted in that way. It is a modest action picture with a story that is interesting enough to make it through, but not enough to spin the disc more than once.