Mystery DVD Club No 5: Chaos

Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes in an action movie? Surely Chaos is the kind of gem that the Mystery DVD Club was designed to unearth...?

Chaos

Mystery DVD Club: it’s where we pick up a load of cheap DVDs, and send them out to our writers in the hope of unearthing a gem. Things, though, haven’t quite been working out that way…

Chaos is rubbish.

Still reading? Good for you. We’re still going to go about business as usual. Just know that this isn’t going to be a positive review because the film isn’t very good. There will still be a brief introduction (this, plus a bit more in the next paragraph), a quick synopsis of the plot and then some critique of some of the elements of the film, followed by a little conclusion and a comment on any bonus features. I just thought I’d take the pressure off of us all and let you know where we’re going to finish (assuming I don’t have some sort of mental breakdown where I start rambling about Vietnam and call you all bastards at the end, which doesn’t seem particularly likely).

It’s hard to know what to write about Chaos. Not because I’m confused by the film, but because my note taking was worn down by the sheer tedium of it all. I started out very diligently scribbling in my notebook. Then it was reduced to quarter-hourly updates along the lines of ‘Still awful – I’m bored’. Finally, I sketched out a stick-version of myself sitting on my sofa watching Chaos and shooting myself in the face with a double-barrelled shotgun, with bits of brain spraying onto the wall and everything.

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So what’s it all about? It starts with a bank heist by a small gang of crooks, led by Wesley Snipes, where hostage negotiator Jason Statham finds himself back at work for the first time since he accidentally killed someone. When Statham finally gets into the bank, it turns out that Snipes hasn’t actually taken any money and has released the hostages unharmed. How strange. Statham’s then paired up with a rookie played by Ryan Phillippe and tasked with tracking down the mysterious robber and finding out what he’s up to. 

So what does Snipes really want? He’s got someone working on the inside, but who is it? Will Phillippe have the tenacity to see the investigation through to a jaw-droppingly stupid conclusion? All interesting questions. The plot of Chaos gets extremely messy after the first forty minutes or so (chaotic, even). I could spend the rest of this review explaining it to you, but I think we’d all sooner I move on so we can get to the good bits, where I’ll be making fun of what went wrong.

It would be wrong to comment on anything else before the performance of Jason Statham, the main reason that anyone could have for watching Chaos. You’ll be immediately struck by the decision to have Statham’s character come from a part of America where their accents apparently sound just like an Englishman doing a terrible impression of an American accent. Apparently, they’re not very good at facial expressions, either.

The key to making the most of Jason Statham as an actor is to do as much as you can to prevent him from having to do any actual acting. Have him fighting or shooting or driving a motorbike or throwing kittens off a bridge, maybe have him say something ridiculous every half hour or so for comic effect. This is where Chaos first falls flat on its big ugly face. They give him all of these lines and emotions and that just isn’t what Jason Statham is about. 

The rest of the cast (aside from Snipes, who we’ll come to in a second) are fine. Ryan Phillippe actually gives a pretty good account of himself. Wesley Snipes, on the other hand, puts in a performance that’s so difficult to notice he might as well have been playing a ghost that you can’t see or hear or give a shit about. It’s a waste of what could have been a fun role, affording an opportunity to really ham it up and chew the scenery. Unfortunately, on the basis of his performance in Chaos, it appears that Snipes doesn’t have any teeth. Or charisma.

The biggest problem with Chaos, though, is the story, which meanders about between sloppy action scenes to grating expository dialogue and then back again. There are also two big revelatory twists. The first immediately struck me as the worst twist I’d ever seen in a film. The second trumped it only ten minutes later. There’s also some very liberal ‘borrowing’ from other films, such as The Usual Suspects and what looks like a very ill-advised take on the Silence Of The Lambs finale. 

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So, to conclude, Chaos isn’t much cop. It’s badly written, doesn’t look very good, features two very poor central performances and doesn’t make very much sense. No wonder it’s such an obscurity, then. Avoid at all costs.

In the way of extra content, we get a director commentary. He seems like a nice enough chap, relays some stories from the set and talks us through some of the difficulties experienced during the production. It’s a pretty dry affair, though, and it’s certainly not worth sitting through the film a second time for.

It has to be said, the Den Of Geek mystery DVD challenge doesn’t seem to be going very well. The films don’t seem to be getting very good write-ups. I personally found myself sitting through a film so mind-numbing it could be used in Clockwork Orange-style behaviour modification experiments to prevent people from ever thinking again. Not that you give a shit. I feel like John Rambo in First Blood, having been sent to Vietnam and experienced such terrible things only to come back to a world that couldn’t care less. I bet you’d all rather be reading Doctor Who news than my bullshit ramblings, wouldn’t you? You bastards!

1 stars