Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Let’s take a dash of ‘Inside Man’, throw in a little bit of ‘Training day’ extract Denzel Washington inject a little (or a lot of actually) of Jason Stratham, shake it all up, roll it out and you have a film called ‘Chaos’ which is a slickly done, entertaining thriller that you must forget IMMEDIATELY after seeing it, otherwise you’ll be left sitting around thinking about this thing and it will quickly start to unravel into a ball of messy twine.

On a sunny afternoon in Seattle, Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) and his crew of never do wells bust in a bank, shoot up the joint, lock it down and proceed to rob it up.  One of the bank employees, despite the fact these guys are obviously mean, have automatic weapons and are punching people in the face hard, decides to play hero and presses the panic alarm.  He gets shot to death for his trouble.  Not that broad daylight bank assaults happen often in these here states, but would a minimum wage teller actually risk his or her life like this in real life?  I sure hope not.  Anyways, the cops descend on the scene, surround the bank, and force Lorenz to negotiate.  Lorenz will only talk to Officer Quentin Conners (Stratham) who is on suspension because of a hostage situation that went terribly wrong with a couple people ending up dead and with his partner being fired.  Conners boss doesn’t trust him because, you guessed it, he’s a loose cannon cowboy who doesn’t play by the rules.  He saddles Conners with fresh faced Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillipe) to keep a eye on him.  Now Dekker may still have the fresh smell of mother’s milk on his breath, but he’s one sharp Buddha spouting cookie.  Regardless, there’s a big explosion in the bank, and the bad guys escape with the fleeing hostages.

Now things start to get tricky.  The robbers didn’t seem to steal anything and Lorenz apparently has a personal issue to pick with Conners, but we don’t what.  People start inexplicably turning up dead, and Dekker knows none of this makes any sense, but he’s the only one apparently.  Even though he’s only one day out of the academy, and all of this action takes place in a single day, ala Training Day, Dekker is well on his way to being Seattle’s version of Steve McGarritt (Uh, that’s the Hawaii 5-0 captain for those under 30.  The smartest Police officer EVER).  Eventually all of this confusion come to a head and it becomes clear in the end when the TWIST is revealed.  Laughter and joy shall ensue.

On the surface this is pretty good stuff.  Writer / Director Tony Giglio keeps this moving at a brisk pace, stopping only to examine clues, and unravel some of the mysteries going on underneath.  Jason Stratham is no real actor, but he does that Jason Stratham thing he does to perfection.  Ryan Phillipe may be well into his thirties, but while his Dorian Gray portrait ages badly in some Hollywood attic he looks as fresh as ever.  I would say he gives a fine performance beyond his years, but he is well within his years actually.  He just looks like he just showed up.  Regardless, he gives a good performance.  And then there’s Wesley Snipes, who, tax problems aside, summons the spirit of Simon Phoenix from ‘Demolition Man’ and creates a fun loving, wise cracking, very violent unpredictable bad guy for the heroes to battle with.  ‘Chaos’ has a really good look to it and Giglio was able to craft some scenes with some real legitimate tension to it.  By the time you get to the end, with the prerequisite explanations and flashbacks, hey, it’s a pretty nice movie.

But as the credits are rolling and your mind starts to wander a bit, that’s when ‘Chaos’ starts to fall apart.  As with any ‘Usual Suspects’ type twisty thriller, a logical number of steps have to happen to get the twist so it makes sense.  Hats off Giglio for crafting a thriller that moves fast enough so the improbable number of ridiculous situations that have to happen to get to the end doesn’t become obvious until AFTER the movie is over.  At least for my slow thinking ass.  Don’t want to spoil anything for you so I won’t go into detail, but it does involve a bad guy who is Lex Luthor and the Menendez brothers all in the same breath.  Also, with the bank cams being active until the bank blows up, somebody should recognize the bad guy quite clearly, since he doesn’t put his mask on until he enters the bank.  Finally, there is a scene where Dekker threatens a hospitalized bank robber by grabbing some morphine out of cabinet in his room and threatening to inject it into his IV tube.  Do hospitals regularly keep cabinets of tightly controlled drugs and needles unlocked in hospital rooms?  Especially if the room has a murder one suspect in it.  Hell if I know.

But I liked this movie though.  Good action, reasonably clever story arc, nice pacing, and good acting.  I just should have stuck another movie in the player after it ended is all.  I suggest that’s exactly what you do should you put ‘Chaos’ in your cue.

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