Chaos (2006)
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Chaos (2006)

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The action thriller is one of the most formula drive genres in film. The writers just need some scaffold of a plot to give the audience a little bit of a break between the scenes we all come for; gunfire, explosions, car chases and general mayhem. ‘Chaos’ written and directed by Tony Giglio is one such flick. It tries its very best to break away from the standard formula but ultimately has to surrender to the requirements. Along the way there are some variations on a theme such as using motorcycles instead of cars for he prerequisite chase scene and several attempts at laying te ground work for a twist ending but in the final analysis this film is fairly faithful to the establish action thriller rule book. These comments are not offered here as a negative. After all the reason the genre is so locked into a standard format is that playbook works and the audiences will still go to see movies like this. Watching this film will give most of the audience a strong feeling of déjà vu. The bottom line is although there is a lot that will be familiar to the viewers it works at what it promises, action. It would be nice to see a truly novel action movie and every great while one does show up. Until then a film like this will entertain and will be fun to watch. Just don’t feel obliged to become fully vested in the plot, it will just distract you from watching things blow up and people getting shot.

It is a little ironic that Giglio got started as a director with a family film about a soccer playing dog. He certainly found a better means to expressing his talent in a flick like this. Fundamentally this is a cop buddy flick. There is the older partner with a dark and disturbing past who is reluctantly pulled back into active field service by a big case. He is assigned a new, younger partner who is supposed to keep an eye on the loose cannon older man. Naturally, the younger man holds his new partner with distain but knows that this case could help his career. Sounds familiar? There are probably a couple of dozen films that have just come to mind. Since Giglio couldn’t distinguish this film from the others with the story line and most special effects seem to come from a standard menu he took the only option available to him. Giglio made sure he populated this film with some of the most recognizable names around. Several even have the added bonus of having made names from themselves in this genre. The other is a heartthrob for the ladies so wives and girlfriends will be more likely to accompany their men to see this film. This film is also more on the Indy side of distribution. It was released wider overseas than here in the States. After this world tour the movie comes to our shores through one of the leaders in independent films on DVD, Lion’s Gate.

The film opens literally on a dark and stormy night. A car is speeding over a bridge, the driver looses control and the vehicle flips over. The man kicks out a window and gets out of the car. As three police cars drive up he pulls out his gun. A young woman drags herself out of the wreck. The man grabs her and as the helicopters appear over head he holds her hostage. The news reporters start arriving and soon the story is being broadcast live on television. Making for an even higher profile story the young woman is Lisa Reane (Kim Howey), the youngest daughter of a congressman. The man holding her hostage is John Curtis (Gaston Howard) who is also wanted for armed robbery. Shots ring out, police inspector Quentin Conners (Jason Statham) has shot both Curtis and Reane. While Conners holds to the incident being an accident the public out cry and pressure on the department by the congressman soon force Conners to be suspended. A montage of newspaper headlines help to expedite the necessary exposition. The brother of Curtis, Scott, is wanted for kidnapping. Conners and his partner named Jason York are to be charged with the deaths. Ultimately York is fired and Conners remains suspended although the family of the girl wanted him fired as well.

A while later in Seattle A group of men including one named Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) walk into bank. They are heavily armed and begin to shot the place up. Lorenz has the head of the bank’s security close down all exits to the bank. For some reason, unknown at this point of course, Lorenz refuses to negotiate with anyone but the still suspended Conners. Much to their chagrin the police management has no choice but to immediately reinstate him. They give him a younger partner, Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe) just to make sure. After an explosion the hostages are released and in the confusion the armed men also escape. It turns out that they have planted a computer virus in the bank’s system that will transfer $100 out of ten million accounts for a payday of over a billion dollars. No one is able to get the virus out of the system so it is imperative that the men be located. The two men disagree on just about everything. One of the main sources of contention is how to proceed. Conner is certain there is a connection to the Bridge shooting but Dekker believes in chaos theory and is certain that he can make sense out of the chaos and find the men responsible.

For a film with so many hackney aspects it is fun. The film has the drive and momentum necessary to draw the audience in and hold them. it is vital for a film such as this to be fast paced and it is. There are some moments that naturally lag as they put in the required character moments. The slower scenes go a long way to help punctuate the action. Just when you think there is a clam moment, bang, something explosive happens. Giglio tries to instill a degree of psychological thriller into the film and not only doesn’t it work out all that well it is unnecessary. If you have seen five or six films of this genre you will have guessed the twist ending after about twenty minutes of screen time. If you want a thriller like this look elsewhere, this is an action film all the way.

As stated the film depends on the cast to sell the film. Jason Statham has carved out a niche for himself with his two ‘Transporter’ flicks. They were pure action so he his well trained in this genre. He is believable as the police detective who sticks by his actions and houses a dark secret. He also is great at kicking butt and shooting everything in sight. Ryan Phillippe has made a few forays into action flicks but is stronger in the more dramatic roles. He combines the thinking detective and younger, resentful partner nicely even though you know the two opposites will pull together by the end. When you need an actor to play a quirky, somewhat crazy character you can’t do much better than Wesley Snipes. He has a innate sense of humor that pervades his characterization and adds a lot of zest to his part.

This is a fun flick that is easy to enjoy. It wants you to think a lot about the plot but doesn’t force the point too much. The film is presented on DVD with a 2.35:1 video and Dolby 5.1 audio. The audio rocks, it will shake your living room. Sit back and enjoy this one with some friends.

Posted 01/28/08

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