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Chaos
cast: Jason Statham, Ryan Phillippe, Wesley Snipes, Justine Waddell, and Marnie Rollins

writer and director: Tony Giglio

102 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
Lions Gate DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Quentin Connors (Jason Statham) is a police detective with no future. Sidelined after shooting both the hostage taker and the hostage in a high profile case, he's running out the clock on a suspension. Shane Dekker (Ryan Phillippe) is a young detective in the shadow of his father's career. Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) is a criminal with intellect and vision and a plan wider than either man can see. When Lorenz asks for Connors by name during a hostage situation, that plan is put in motion and the two men find themselves caught up in an increasingly bizarre series of random events, all of which, it seems, Lorenz knew were coming...

Statham is increasingly at the forefront of a very interesting sub-group of English action stars, his work in the demented-but-fun Crank, and The Transporter films, establishing him as a credible and highly unusual star. However, there's more to what he can do, as shown by The Bank Job earlier in the year and this, surprisingly smart, straight-to-DVD thriller.

As Connors, Statham is both a clear physical threat and an intellectual one and the relationship between him and Phillippe's perceptive but inexperienced Dekker is really well played. There's very little of the standard cop movie animosity and instead the film's first half revolves around the two men sizing one another up, forming opinions on how the other operates with little or none of the traditional head-bashing that these movies entail.

Both men, however, find themselves in the orbit of Snipes' Lorenz and on some level eclipsed by him. Snipes, for all his faults, is magnificent when he shows up for work and categorically does so here, owning every scene he's in with a flamboyant intelligence that's reminiscent of a more restrained Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man. He's not in the film a tremendous amount of time, but what you see is consistently fun and impressive and it can only be hoped that should Snipes return to work on his release, this is the sort of work we'll see from him.

Make no mistake, this is a straight-to-DVD movie and the budget is clearly small, but despite that, there are moments of real intelligence in here, and a plot that has at least one genuinely interesting wrinkle folded into it. It's not big budget fare but with three good performances from three good leading men, a nicely handled script and some economic direction, it's at least as good, if not better, than some of the action fare that has made it to the big screen.
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