Lionsgate // 2005 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 11th, 2009
When the system breaks down...someone is about to get rich.
Jason Statham (Crank) and Ryan Phillippe (Five Fingers) team up in this little known, yet serviceable cop flick.
Statham is Detective Quentin Connors, a former hardass who found himself in the doghouse after a hostage stand-off went wrong and someone innocent died. He's stewing in his pity for a while, until another hostage situation breaks out, this one at a bank with a lot more lives on the line. The d-bag behind the bank takeover explicitly calls for Connors who is brought back onto the force and teamed up with a smarty-pants rookie named Dekker (Phillippe). That's when things go bad, like with big explosions and stuff.
As the investigation spools up, Dekker surmises there's something more to the bank robbery, and the leader of the bad guys (Wesley Snipes), who seemed at first interested in only sowing chaos, might have a grander plan...believe it or not.
I liked this. Chaos may not redefine what's possible in the police suspense thriller, but it's satisfying and entertaining enough to earn a look-see by fans of the genre or anyone hankering for a decent, plot-twist-heavy actioner.
It should be noted to Statham fans expecting a beat'em up in the vein of The Transporter or Crank, this is not one of those movies. Chaos has its moments -- the bank hostage situation, a house siege, and the big bad final showdown -- but the momentum is generated primarily from the mystery and the plot switchbacks rather than pyrotechnics. In fact, the big action set-piece is an extended chase between a bad guy in a truck and Dekker on a motorcycle; and though we're all for bike safety at DVD Verdict, the sight of Ryan Phillippe in a suit and a dorky helmet drains the sequence of gravitas.
Shifting over to what works, thumbs up to the plot, which actually surprised me with its turnarounds, though there's a decent chance you'll apply a far greater amount of brain power than I can summon up and land on the central twist. Regardless, it's all well-staged, specifically the revelation of Snipes's character's motives. Despite the expected, unfulfilling ending, I came away digging on the serpentine plot.
Performances are effective all around. Statham doesn't do a lot of terribly different stuff from what you've grown accustomed to -- the growling, sneering, and sauntering are largely reminiscent of other roles -- but not many do the Alpha Good Guy as well as he does. Snipes makes a great bad guy, a role he should have sought more often in his uneven career. The highlight is Phillippe, a dude that doesn't usually blow my skirt up, but as the de facto main character, he's smart, resourceful, and just short of badass.
Lionsgate's Blu-ray release is adequate, though not particularly memorable. The 2.35:1 1080p transfer is clean, robust in clarity, but lacking the eye-popping sheen of top-tier HD releases. Is it enough of a visual upgrade to earn a recommendation over the DVD release? Yeah, but just by a few degrees. The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio performs better in comparison, blowing out an active surround mix that properly pumps up the on-screen action. Extras: a laid-back director's commentary and a disposable making-of featurette.
All the "chaos theory" stuff wants to be clever, but it really isn't.
You could do a whole lot worse on a Friday night than Chaos. The Blu-ray's alright.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R