THE CHAOS EXPERIMENT
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
and Eric Roberts
What's it about
A man walks into a newsroom and tells the editor to print his essay about our dying environment. If not, people will die in a very roomy sauna.
Is it good movie?
Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer, Val Kilmer. Where for art thou? What happened to thee? If everyone in film nerdom can recall, there was a time Kilmer was one of the sought after actors in Hollywood. He had a potential franchise in The Saint. He did the funny with Real Genius (a personal fav) and Top Secret. And good God, the man was Batman!! However, hard times have fallen and Kilmer now makes a lot of direct-to-DVD flicks. Maybe itís the quick cash. Maybe the manís a workaholic. Maybe a brother just canít catch a break. Whatever the reason, Kilmer still has the same acting chops as before, heís still got the old charm, but heís not starring in quality material as of late. And itís a shame.
Case in point: The new release The Chaos Experiment. Now as a film, itís just mediocre all the way around. The cast works effectively, but no performances stand out. The direction, while flashy, never feels individualistic or original. It feels like it wants to be something it has no chance in becoming: quality. The story, while a messed-up tale, is extremely clichť and feels like a Saw rip-off expect for the madman turns himself in for media attention instead of making the people choose life or death. In doing so, it immediately removes the tension from the scenes in the sauna where his victims are trapper. Perhaps then (as I put on my fanboy directorís hat) the scenes with Kilmer and Armand Assante should have been more intriguing, more suspenseful. But as is, theyíre a boring with Kilmer just playing a nut job while the director keeps flashing back to Kilmer standing on a Merry-go-round. Huh? Itís all a very poor attempt at creating the illusion of a sophisticated thriller. And The Chaos Experiment ainít that.
The sauna scenes in particular are oddly boring. One would think that having a group of hot, bikini-clad women and some burly guys (could have lost them) all stuck inside a sweltering room would create tension. But director Philippe Martinez fails miserably here as thereís never a sense of claustrophobia or a sense of tension among the sauna people. Sure, they yell, scream, and fight, but thereís no panic, no sense of dread for the audience. Theyíre scummy people and you just wait for them to die. Thereís no moment of, ďJeez, what the hell would I do if I were there.Ē Nope, instead Martinez has lots and lots of slow-mo scenes that do nothing other than to look pretty.
As for Kilmer and Assante, theyíre as good as usual. In particular, Kilmer is the only real standout, but itís a forgettable role. Itís like he showed up on set, was told to act a little nutty and quirky, and boom, thereís your character. It all feels very, well, mediocre.
Video / Audio
Video: A crisp and clear Widescreen presentation.
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 Dolby Surround.
If the The Chaos Experiment was an experiment done in one of my classes, Iíd give it a C-. Itís good enough to pass, but nothing that your mother would be proud of.