The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I've got 30-plus movies on my Netflix queue, and I' Last weekend, not one of them burst off the page. I didn't really want to see any of them so I did a sorta-random search and picked a movie. The end result....2005's Chaos, a movie that got an extremely limited theatrical release. Good cast, cool premise? Maybe we've got a rut-buster.

After a hostage standoff goes horribly wrong, Seattle detective Quentin Conners (Jason Statham) is suspended indefinitely from the force while his partner is fired. Just a few months later, Conners is brought back to the force when his supervisor has no other option. A bank is being robbed by five heavily armed gunmen with over 40 hostages taken. The leader of the bank robbers, Lorenz (Wesley Snipes), has demanded to negotiate only with Conners and no one else. Given a young, new partner -- really more of a watchdog -- Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe), Conners heads to the bank looking to get the robbers and save the hostages. Nothing goes right though, several hostages injured in an explosion that allows the bank robbers to escape as well. Inside the bank, no money seems to have been taken. What exactly was the purpose of the "robbery"? What did they hope to achieve? Can Conners and Dekker figure it all out?

Yeah, about this, what a stinker. This is not the rut-buster I was counting on for my Netflix queue. From director Tony Giglio (who also wrote the screenplay), 'Chaos' borrows liberally from a fair amount of like-minded movies about bank robberies and hostages, anything from Swordfish to Inside Man (heavily borrowed), Dog Day Afternoon to Heat and plenty other movies that are far better than this one. It was clearly made on a smaller budget, Canadian locations filling in for Seattle, and generally has the feel of a straight-to-DVD dud. It tries to be something better, something else, but it never creates enough of its own identity and is dead on arrival. 'Chaos' is only 106 minutes long but it drags badly almost immediately and never picks up any momentum.

The formula for cheap action flicks like this is usually cast two or three pretty recognizable actors/stars, get another actor who never quite became a star but is a recognizable face, and then fill in the rest of the cast with no-name actors and actresses. Here we get Statham (rising action star at the time), Snipes (past his prime star with some legal issues) and Phillippe (young star who never quite rose to stardom). The three lead performances range from decent to pointless to wasted and then just some plain old bad. Statham's cool on-screen persona is there, but his American accent drifts in and out at will. Mostly, he looks frustrated or has a smart-ass grin on his face. Snipes' part amounts to little more than a cameo, but he goes for it in the over-the-top villain department. Phillippe just struggles. He gets the big, explanatory dialogue scenes and it's just bad. Uncomfortably bad.

The only other recognizable face is Henry Czerny as Capt. Martin Jenkins, the higher-ranking police officer who speaks in cliches, questioning everything and demanding things be done his way. Or the highway!!! It's the same part he played in Mission: Impossible and Clear and Present Danger.

Bad is bad, but then there's just awful bad. 'Chaos' has more of those awful moments than any guilty pleasure should have. My favorite right out of the Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay school of Action Movies goes like this. Phillippe is chasing a suspect down an alley in a foot chase and smashes right into a row of parked motorcycles. Shane yells "I'm a police officer! I need your motorcycle!" at which point he puts on a ridiculous helmet and chases after him, a ridiculously long action sequence starting up. The other goes down the Overtly Uncomfortable Sexual Tension Department. Investigating a crime scene, Conners and Dekker talk to a CSI investigator (Keegan Connor Tracy) who tells Dekker she'd like to ride him and she has a list of approved things he can put in her mouth. Oh, all the while she's sucking on a sucker. Subtle, this ain't. You'll think you've stumbled across a Skinamax movie late at night.

Then there's the twist and then another and then another. The movie's title is based on chaos theory which suggests that seemingly random occurrences are actually related in some fashion or another. Random eventually leads to patterns so in fact, nothing is in fact, chaotic. There are so many good movies out there like The Usual Suspects and Fight Club and The Sixth Sense with excellent twists, really well thought out revelations that seem ridiculous, but nope, when you really start to think about them it all comes together. This is not one of those movies. The twists are both obvious and stupid, and the ending goes for a "clever" finale that plays against genre conventions, but even that falls short. Just nothing to recommend here unfortunately. Avoid at all costs.

Chaos (2005): */****

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