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Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Philippe’

Hard though it may be for some friends to believe, I have not yet covered the complete opus of Mr Jason Statham; indeed, there are some films of his that I haven’t even seen. Still, it’s nice to have something to do, even if I’m occasionally moved to doubt my conviction that there’s no such thing as a bad Statham movie.

Recently I have had cause to reflect on the fact that 2005 is longer ago than it feels – to me, anyway. Tony Giglio’s Chaos is a movie from that year, and as a result it qualifies as one of Mr Statham’s earlier vehicles – if we’re going to get very pretentious (and why not) it’s a-movie-with-Jason-Statham-in-it rather than a-Jason-Statham-movie proper. It also features a couple of actors who were reasonably big stars eight years ago but now seem prime candidates for the Where Are They Now? file (well, in one case the sad answer is ‘appearing in Expendables movies’, and I’m not talking about Statham himself).

Anyway. Mr Statham plays Quentin Conners, a detective currently on suspension following a hostage crisis which ended rather badly. But Connors is reinstated when a gang of thieves led by the mysterious Lorenz (Wesley Snipes, prior to his extended sojourns in Namibia and the prison system) attempt to rob a bank and end up in a tense siege situation. Lorenz insists that the only man he’ll negotiate with is Conners – but why?

The siege ends in chaos – the criminals don’t seem to have taken anything from the vault, but they also manage to avoid being caught. Conners and his team (including new, strait-laced partner Ryan Philippe) have a slim lead to follow, more by luck than anything else – but in addition to catching the bad guys, can they solve the mystery of the robbery that wasn’t?

Chaos is definitely a thriller with pretensions to sophistication, not a straight action movie, and this is another reason why it sits somewhat uneasily within the Statham canon. I know I usually refer to the fact that Jason Statham only ever plays the same character, but this is obviously a bit of a generalisation. In addition to playing the main Jason Statham Character, he also does a nice line in wild-man psychos, charming scoundrels, and either rogue or semi-rogue cops. This last is the mode he’s in here, and his performance is perfectly serviceable (even if he seems to be having one of his frequent off-days when it comes to doing an American accent). Nevertheless, this film is not a star vehicle for him.

Instead it’s a twisty-turny police procedural with an occasional rather ho-hum action sequence mixed in. The opening definitely put me in mind of Inside Man (which actually came out the following year), but this movie has nothing like the same quality, wit, or strength in its performances. To be honestly, I never really cared what was going on or who was doing what to whom – the script just picks elements from a menu of crime thriller staples and assembles them together without much style or invention.

There is a twist ending which I suspect was supposed to make me go ‘Wow! How clever!’, but didn’t: it just struck me as rather implausible and arguably a bit of a cheat. Now, I can’t really carry on talking about Chaos in any real detail without spoiling the twist, so be warned: on the other side of the poster I will potentially ruin this movie’s plot for you in perpetuity. Last warning!

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Statham is actually the villain, orchestrating a series of crimes to get revenge on a system he feels treated him and his partner (Snipes) unfairly following the hostage thing at the start. In order for this to work, the movie has to be extremely selective about what it shows us of the incident which sets the whole plot in motion. Even at the time this felt a bit odd, and it is just a slightly laboured plot-facilitating device.

And, beyond this, Statham’s supposed to be playing a semi-rogue cop, one of those mavericks who’s always being summoned to the captain’s office for a dressing down after a big car chase or whatever. I can entirely believe him in that sort of role; it’s not quite his stock-in-trade, but close enough. But – with all due respect – Statham as some sort of machiavellian planner, a criminal genius? The ending of the film, with him on the phone to Philippe in a rather implausible hat, seems to be trying to recall The Silence of the Lambs, with him in the Hannibal Lecter role. No, guys. I love Jason Statham, but he has his limits. It doesn’t suit his acting range or the back-story of the film.

Given the final revelation, I’m not sure the rest of the plot hangs together coherently, and I don’t really have the desire to watch the film again to check (always a sign a twist ending hasn’t worked properly). The switch also causes structural issues for the film – this isn’t a Statham vehicle, but he’s still the main character, so the sudden promotion of Philippe to protagonist towards the end is a little bit of a wrench.

Still, it’s not awful, just an odd mixture of the preposterous and the dull. No-one really gets a chance to shine in this film, and Wesley Snipes in particularly doesn’t get the screen-time you’d expect (he and Statham barely have any scenes where they’re both in the same room). It’s okay. It’s just very forgettable and a lot less smart than it thinks it is.

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