Chaos, the 2005 straight to video film from writer/director Tony Giglio, casts Jason Statham and Wesley Snipes in a heist film cum mystery that, on paper at least, looked like a winner. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving.
When a bank robber calling himself Lorenz holds forty people hostage inside a building in downtown Seattle, it's time for suspended cop Quentin Connors to come out of hiding. For some reason, Lorenz will talk only to Connors and he refuses to deal with anyone else. Before you know it, the bank has blown up, Lorenz and his team have gone missing, and Connors is teaming up with a rookie cop named Shane Dekker (Ryan Philippe) to catch the bad guy and save the day. As the pair carry on their investigation, a game of cat and mouse plays out and they find themselves involved in a strange and very layered mystery involving a series of crimes based on the Chaos Theory.
The premise for the film is a sound one and the film moves along at a strong pace, from exciting opening in which we see just why Connors was suspend to the twist ending where we learn that very little in the film was as it seemed. Why, then, does the film fail when it sounds like it should have worked and worked well at that? Clichés, and plenty of them. Does Connors get into a dispute with his ex-girlfriend, now involved with one of his rivals on the force? Does he carry a big chip on his shoulder because of his suspension but then jump at the chance to get back into action? Is Dekker on the force because his dad was a hero cop killed in the line of duty? Is there a chase scene where a vehicle barrels down an alley way only to see two men carry something in front of it? Does a cop commandeer a pedestrian motorbike to chase that bad guy down? The answer to all of these questions is, sadly, yes, and that hurts the film considerably.
To the movie's credit, the twist ending is a good one, though a few too many clues point in that direction towards the end of the film and the possibility of such a plan actually being carried out is slim to say the least. Unfortunately, the film follows the clever twist by rapping things up Silence Of The Lambs style with an airport based phone conversation that is pretty laughable.
Statham uses his screen presence to carry his scenes but his chemistry with Philippe (not a bad actor in his own right) is nil while Snipes' role is, despite prominent billing, really only a glorified cameo, his character's ties to Statham's again an obvious cliché. A few tense chase scenes and a remarkable bank explosion give the film some value as a mindless action film but unfortunately the film aspires to be much more than that and so it forces its uninspired plot down our throats leaving a pretty bad taste in our mouths. To Giglio's credit, he tries hard to craft a different breed of action movie, it's just a shame that this different film falls prey to the same old tired action movie plot devices.
Chaos arrives on Blu-ray in a VC-1 encoded 1080p anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen presentation that is a noticeable improvement over its previous standard definition counterpart. While detail levels still aren't reference quality, it's a step up and the fact that the noticeable compression artifacts that the DVD release was riddled with are gone is also a plus. Color reproduction is alright, though this is a fairly bleak looking film that doesn't have a particularly robust palette, and skin tones look nice and natural. A lot of the film has been tinted blue for artistic effect and that's carried over well. With a lot of the film taking place at night, it's nice to see that the black levels are strong and that shadow detail is pretty decent. This isn't a transfer that will blow you away, but it's not a bad looking effort from Lionsgate.
The English language 48 kHz/1.5Mbps 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Track is fine for the most part, and it sounds much more powerful than the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track that was on the standard definition release. Dialogue is clean and clear and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to complain about. The rather pedestrian sounding score comes through nicely and the surround channels are used fairly well during the shoot out scenes, the motorcycle chase scene and the opening car crash. Bass response is strong and the low end has as nice rumble in spots, while rear channel activity adds some welcome ambience in a few key scenes. English closed captioning and optional Spanish subtitles are included.
The most substantial supplement on this disc is a commentary track from writer/director Tony Giglio, who very obviously had his heart in the right place. He talks about his influences as a filmmaker, what it was like shooting on location in Seattle and in British Columbia filling in for Seattle. He discusses working with Statham, Snipes and Philippe and explains some of the ideas he had for the film and some of the changes that they went through during production. He also talks about building the set for the big bank explosion scene, which is fairly interesting. There are a few moments of awkward silence here and there where Giglio clams up, but for the most part he keeps things moving at a good pace and he does deliver quite a bit of information.
Also included on the disc is the twelve-minute featurette, The Order Behind Chaos (presented in standard definition). Here writer/director Tony Giglio talks about the seventies crime films that influenced his picture while Wesley Snipes shows up to discuss what he likes about the character and how he enjoys playing the bad guy from time to time. Some on set footage is included here alongside a few too many clips from the feature itself, making this one feel shallow, padded, and fairly promotional in nature.
Rounding out the supplements are some animated menus, chapter selection, a bookmarking option, and a trailer for Crank 2 (presented in high definition).
Chaos has a nice twist towards the end but is otherwise riddled with bad action movie clichés and poorly written dialogue. Statham tries hard to save the film but he can't quite pull it off and Snipes doesn't have enough screen time to make much of a difference. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release looks and sounds alright and does offer an upgrade from the previous standard definition release, but the movie really doesn't warrant it, even if it does serve as mindless entertainment. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.