Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chaos! (Theory, that is...) Out now. (****4/10)

Stick Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and Ryan Phillippe in a movie together, and what do you have? A certified, genuine, authentically stamped no-bones-about-it B-movie. These are B list guys all the way, and although Snipes has had breakthrough moments, he is no longer box office gold. Or even silver. Or copper. And Phillippe, while he once looked like an actor with promise, he has now been surpassed in the very same roles by - believe it or not - his doppleganger Justin Timberlake. He is now best known as the ex-husband of Reese Witherspoon. Bottoms out. And Statham makes forty movies a year, twenty of which are just explosions and guns and fights, and twenty of which are explosions and guns and fights and Big Twist endings. Chaos is one of the latter. Look out! Here comes the Big Twist Ending! I don't mind saying this, because the twist really sucks.

So does most of the movie. It opens with a standoff on a bridge. The hostage is...duhduhduh...a congressman's daughter! A CONGRESSMAN! His daughter! This makes things that much more difficult because you see...he's a congressman! Americans seem to have a lot of love for their congressmen, and a lot of fear when it comes to their Powers. It seems pretty logical to them that if you screw up a hostage situation with the daughter of...a congressman! then that congressman will take your job and ruin your career and possibly, if he has a long reach...get you killed. Can you imagine a Canadian movie doing this? Like, the daughter of an NDP MPP gets kidnapped, and the cops all walk on eggshells because he's...an MPP! HE's the GUY who controls a portion of the Senior's Secretariat! Better watch yourselves on this one, boys. Don't mess this one up. He's an MPP.

Anyway, that takes up only about six seconds, and ends abruptly, so we know that we will be getting the rest of the snippets from that event throughout the movie, and we know that if we saw the entire scene at once, we would instantly figure out the Big Twist Ending, so we wait. The fallout from the big Congressman's Daughter incident was that one cop was fired, and another was suspended. We see this cop's house, and he has used up an entire wall by plastering it with newspaper clippings from the incident. He does this not because any rational disgraced cop would do so, but because it makes it easy for a camera to pan over the collage, letting us in on the beginning of the story without having to resort to a narrator. The fact that not one of the six hundred newspaper clippings actually says anything about the incident itself, or has any pictures that would give things away, makes sense. THAT information has to come out SLOWLY, over the course of the movie!

Then Wesley Snipes robs a bank. Snipes seems to really relish playing the bad guy lately, and he's basically playing Blade, only as a bank robber. The cops show up and there is a standoff...just like every other standoff in every other bad movie, no cop listens to the commander. Once the order has been given to go in, the SWAT team cowboys will not stop. They will then ignore all subsequent orders. This has happened in maybe seven thousand movies, and zero times in real life. Some great lines ensue, like "Are you ADD?" Apparently, judging by the way this line is delivered, ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is the new "retarded". Only more PC, because it doesn't mock the intellectually challenged. The bad guys get away, of course, because they are super-well organized and have it all figured out. The WAY they get away - never really explained. And if they think they HAVE explained it, they're ADD.

There follows a car chase. This is one of those chases in which a motorcycle chases a car. The motorcycle starts off six feet behind the car. What this motorcyclist believes he can do to apprehend the suspect once he catches the car, we are not sure. However, he decides that being six feet behind the car is not good enough. He must take a shortcut in order to make up that distance. This shortcut goes through buildings, alleys, fruit stands, windows, and causes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the city, but it was worth it! Because he emerges from the window into the street and ends up...six feet behind the car! The chase continues...I sure do love these movie scenes. They make terrific sense.

Then there is the cop who will do ANYTHING to get his man, the elimination of the suspects, the murder of the witnesses, and this incredibly silly and stupid bit about chaos theory. The movie thinks this is a smart idea to throw on top of the movie - the concept being that what seems random on the surface is, upon further investigation, actually a pattern that can be quantified. Which would make sense only if what we see on the surface appears random, or if the subsequent underlying pattern existed. Neither is true of this movie. The ending is more than predictable, and given how smart they think their cops are (chaos theory!) the whole thing should have been as painfully obvious to them as it is to us, the viewers. Chaos is just silly, and that would be fine for a movie, except that it thinks it is more than that. It believes it is smart, but really it is just ADD.

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