Chaos (2005)

Director: Tony Giglio

I begin with the facts—made in 2005 yet halfheartedly given a mini-release in 2007, writer/director Tony Giglio’s Chaos starring Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and Ryan Phillippe ultimately ended up having its largest premiere on the DVD shelves of local video stores in 2008. Everything about the aforementioned facts seemed to scream that it was going to be a disaster yet, and echoing numerous user comments on IMDb, I was actually shocked to discover that snobbery aside, damn it, Chaos is much better than one would assume. Actually, I’d even go as far as to say it’s an above average police thriller, that, despite a huge pull-the-wool-over-your-eyes finale that keeps doubling back to try to top itself, has further convinced me that Jason Statham is an extremely exciting actor to watch.

Set in Seattle, the film opens with a fateful tragedy where two police officers try to save the daughter of a congressman who’s been held hostage after a carjacking by a criminal. When quick reactions lead to the deaths of both the innocent and criminal civilians, we learn in a series of newspaper headlines over the beginning that Detective Jason York (Jason Statham) is suspended from the police department and his partner has lost his job.

Now brought up to speed for present day, we watch as a group of masked men led by Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) hold up a Seattle bank and when the alarm is tripped and it becomes a standoff, the only demand Lorenz makes is to deal directly with York who is reluctantly brought in from suspension and given a babysitter in the form of his new, young partner, Detective Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe). By this point, we’re thinking we’re watching a simple heist film but it evolves repeatedly throughout as the captors escape the bank undetected and the real mystery begins.

Giglio, a former production assistant on action films like Heat and The Quick and the Dead, noted on the DVD that his intention with Chaos was to ditch the typical action genre's overreliance on visual effects and in the vein of 70’s films such as The French Connection, make a gritty work that he says is less of a heist action film and ultimately more of a mystery. In this goal he succeeds with this riveting work that will keep you guessing right up to the finale although some viewers may beat the detectives to the punch a few times along the way.

While I will admit that it is another one of those films that seems to delight in building layer upon layer of new twist endings to rival other neo-noir films like The Usual Suspects (although this isn’t in the same league), Chaos is a great rainy afternoon film. Or perhaps it’s the perfect escapist action fare to unwind with when you’ve had a long day, since as Giglio noted on the DVD, he knows he did his job as a filmmaker if he can entertain viewers enough that they forget where they parked their car. Actually, maybe that’s part of the reason this little gem improves on DVD since afterwards you’ll still be putting everything together and it’s better to watch in your own home when you know exactly where your car is parked.

Note: For those who wish to avoid a major plot spoiler, visit the main IMDb page for Chaos AFTER you’ve seen the film.