Chaos (2005)

(On Cable TV, September 2012) I’m constantly amazed at the number of decent films that fly under my radar.  I had years where I saw more than 70 movies in theaters, and will probably see that many even this year when I’m deliberately avoiding theaters to stay at home watching on-demand movies; I keep up with the trade news and have a fairly reliable mental database of whose in what; I like Jason Statham a lot… why is it that I completely missed seeing Chaos when it came out in 2005?  I can’t explain it… but I can enjoy it, because even on the small screen, Chaos is a decent middle-of-the-road crime thriller.  Featuring Jason Statham, Ryan Philippe and (briefly) Wesley Snipes in one of his last roles before his 2006-2009 eclipse, Chaos has the advantage of a strong opening and a decent middle section before turning repetitive and overlong in its final act.  There’s playfulness in the way the opening crams a film’s worth of plot in a credit sequence, and then in the way is plays along with traditional genre elements during its first half.  Chaos’ biggest problem is that it doesn’t quite know how to deliver a third act –although, fortunately, it manages a good final scene as a kicker.  Statham is as reliable as always in a solid policeman role, whereas Philippe plays a familiar but ill-fitting young-wunderkind protagonist.  (Snipes, meanwhile, shown up for a while and disappears except when the film needs a scare or two.)  Still, there’s a lot to like about some of the film’s thematic content: As a big fan of James Gleick’s Chaos, I was overjoyed to see the non-fiction science book get a prominent role in a crime thriller.  Still, I think that Chaos will work better for viewers who are receptive to crime-thriller genre elements and the ways they can be blended, recombined and subverted.  It may not be a film for the ages, but it’s good enough at what it does, and it confirms that few actors can be as effective action heroes as Statham.

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