More Chaotic than Chaos Theory
Chaos Theory - the theory which suggests that even random events have some sort of order. "Chaos" a movie which mentions Chaos Theory but really is just another action movie. To be fair "Chaos" is entertaining, it is well cast and if all you want are chase scenes and gun fights as cops chase down bad guys then you won't be disappointed. But when they try to sneak in some intelligence into "Chaos" as we watch a young, naive detective try to find some sort of connection and order from seamlessly random acts it becomes stupid as it most certainly can't pull off the intelligence needed to make it more than just an action thriller.
After a suspect and their hostage is killed on Pearl Street Bridge detective Quentin Conners (Jason Statham - Cellular) is suspended whilst his partner Jason York (Wesley Snipes) is fired. But when police stop a bank robbery Conners is reinstated as the robber who calls himself Lorenz wants to deal with him and him alone or else the customers will all be killed. Accompanying Connors is rookie detective Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe - Crash) who is Connors complete opposite and it is Dekker who realises that not all is as simple as it seems as the bank robbers who manage to get away never stole anything. Digging around in what information they have not only does Dekker discover that robbery was to plant a virus on the banks computers to steal money but that Lorenz is somehow connected to the police and has had help on the inside, but who?
The trouble with "Chaos" and to be honest many cop action thrillers is that they always remind you of other movies and so with an opening sequence where we learn that Quentin Conners is a suspended detective but reinstated to deal with a bank robber who wants to deal with him you can but help think "Die Hard: With a Vengeance". It may take a little time for us to discover that the robber who calls himself Lorenz is in fact Quentin's fired partner Jason York but it is no big surprise. And so from then on in it is a case of whether Quentin and the inexperienced Shane Dekker who partners him will uncover the truth, that there is corruption within the police force.
Now this is where "Chaos" attempts to be clever as whilst Quentin is more of a cowboy detective, a John McClane style action hero, Dekker is more of a thinking man who tries to unravel the clues, the words and so on to get to the bottom of things. These two elements sort of work nicely together as we have Dekker discovering something accompanied by Quentin going all action hero. But whilst it attempts to be clever it also ends up seriously contrived as Dekker manages to piece together the flimsiest of clues to discover the truth. Now part of this is good, the actual bank robbery is not what it seems and as Dekker finds out the police corruption element is much deeper than he expects. But it also demands that you accept all of this quasi intelligence and references to Chaos Theory without actually looking to deep into how solidly constructed it is.
The knock on effect of this is that "Chaos" unsurprisingly ends up a movie about the action, be it the slick way the robbers go about their business to various chase scenes. Now the chase scenes are well shot, they are fast and at times gripping yet at the same time they are nothing which hasn't been seen before. A chase through the streets with Dekker on a motorbike or through a series of dark cargo containers all feel very familiar and unoriginal.
"Chaos" does have another issue and it is the tone, because it feels like it wants to be an action movie with a jokey side, but the jokey side is so weak it also feels cheesy especially when it comes to characters. Ryan Phillippe as Shane Dekker may look the part of a newly qualified detective but when he straps on the silly helmet during the motorcycle chase he looks little more than an idiot. I imagine he was meant to look silly but it just feels very wrong, as is the scene where a Crime Scene Investigator flirts heavily with him. It basically makes Dekker a very wrong character and no matter how much Phillippe tries to build the character it always feels wrong.
On the flip side of this you have Jason Statham as Quentin Connors a character which if you slapped him in a grubby white vest could have been John McClane. It is that sort of character, the cowboy cop who exudes confidence and true grit, the sort of man who gets shot and keeps on running, disliking attention from the medics and is a bit old fashioned, not up to date with modern procedures. Statham may do a good job, he certainly makes the action work but it is a case that the character is too familiar, to much of a collection of other cop characters from similar movies. And as for Wesley Snipes, well to be honest his character is a waste of his talent because Snipes has so little to do other than lurk in the background, kill a few people and speak on the phone.
What this all boils down to is that "Chaos" may try to be clever with its reference to Chaos Theory but in reality it is just another action thriller. And as such whilst it is entertaining it isn't anything which you won't have seen before, from various action scenes to the characters and even the twists are not that much of a surprise thanks to some heavy handed telegraphing of the clues.