Seattle PD Detective Quentin Conners (Jason Statham) apparently kills a car hijacker called John Curtis and the young woman the hijacker is using as a shield. Newspapers and reporters blame Detective Conners and his partner York. After a fellow police officer, Callo, testifies against them, Conners is suspended, and York is fired. York tried to kill John, but York accidentally killed the hostage. John tried to kill York, but Conners killed John in self-defense.
In the present day, Lorenz (Wesley Snipes) and four other criminals take hostages in a bank. Lorenz has only one demand, to negotiate with Conners. Conners is reinstated but put under the surveillance of a new partner, the young Inspector Dekker. Conners is given control of the negotiations, and after a bank teller is shot, he orders a SWAT unit to cut the building's power and go in. During an explosion, the criminals flee during the ensuing panic and chaos.
Dekker and Conners learn more about each other at a local diner, slowly building a friendship, but Dekker disapproves of Conners' cowboy methods. Dekker explains that during negotiations, Lorenz was making many cryptic references to chaos theory. As they leave to examine new evidence, Conners pays with a ten dollar bill and says he does not like to tip. Dekker swaps the ten for a twenty of his own.
A TV camera caught a shot of one of the criminals, who is arrested together with his girlfriend at her home, where banknotes are found with a scent used to mark evidence collected by the police. The banknote serial numbers did not come from that day's robbery, but had been placed in police storage and signed out a two weeks earlier by Inspector Callo. He is found shot dead in his home, together with incriminating evidence linking him to the heist.
When reviewing video footage from the bank, Dekker notices one corner of the bank is deliberately shielded from view. In that corner, they find the bank regional manager's computer. Fingerprints on the keyboard reveal the identity of a hacker that Conners himself had arrested, but whose conviction was overturned after the shooting on the bridge. Conners and Dekker want to question the hacker, but he is shot dead by Lorenz, and a gun fight ensues. Lorenz escapes.
Dekker questions the hospitalized bank robber identified in the news TV footage and finally breaks him when he casually explains the impact of a massive overdose of morphine while slowly injecting something into the suspect's drip. An amazed Conners watches and later calls him a hypocrite. Dekker responds by explaining he only injected more saline solution.
The suspect reveals Lorenz is Scott Curtis, the brother of John shot earlier, and Conners leads a stakeout at an address where all the gang are to meet that night. It is Scott's house. Forced to go before Scott arrives, a shootout results in both suspects' deaths, and a bomb blows up the building while Conners is inside.
Dekker is devastated but realizes that Callo's signature requesting material from the evidence storage was forged by the evidence custody officer, who reveals that Scott is actually York. In a flashback, York stands on the bridge and fires the first shot, killing the woman hostage in the opening sequence. Tracking Lorenz/York's mobile phone, Dekker surprises York at a diner, and York takes a woman hostage in a reversal of the standoff on the bridge. Dekker chases and eventually kills York.
When Dekker pays for his coffee at the diner, he discovers the banknote Conners used to pay for lunch with is also scented, which means Conners was also involved in taking the money from police evidence. Dekker finds a copy of James Gleick's book on chaos theory, showing he had faked an earlier ignorance of the mathematics. On a hunch, Dekker looks for airplane tickets booked in the name of James Gleick and runs to the airport.
During a mobile call between the now disguised Conners and the searching Dekker at the busy airport, flashbacks reveal how the seemingly unconnected events in the film form a pattern, just as predicted in chaos theory. Conners reveals that he placed his badge on Scott's corpse before the explosion. Conners and York recruited a group of ex-convicts from their past. Callo was framed for being a dirty cop. Conners ends the call, walks casually to a private jet, and takes off while sipping champagne.Jason Statham as Quentin Conners
Ryan Phillippe as Shane Dekker
Wesley Snipes as Jason York, a.k.a. Lorenz/Scott Curtis
Henry Czerny as Capt. Martin Jenkins
Justine Waddell as Det. Teddy Calloway
Nicholas Lea as Det. Vincent Durano
Keegan Connor Tracy as Marnie Rollins
Jessica Steen as Karen Cross
Rob LaBelle as Bank Manager
John Cassini as Bernie Callo
Damon Johnson as Brendan Dax
Paul Perri as Harry Hume
Natassia Malthe as Gina Lopez
Ty Olsson as Damon Richards
Terry Chen as Chris Lei
Mike Dopud as Lamar Galt
Michasha Armstrong as Xander Harrington
Kim Howey as Lisa Reane
Gaston Howard as John Curtis
Chaos was filmed in Seattle, Washington, US and British Columbia, Canada.
Michael S. Gant of Metro Silicon Valley wrote, "The plot depends on an impossible chain of coincidences, but there are some decent car chases." Ian Jane of DVD Talk rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote, "Chaos has a nice twist towards the end but is otherwise riddled with bad action movie clichés and poorly written dialogue." Jeffrey Kauffman, also of DVD Talk, rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "Chaos isn't a bad film; it just isn't a very good one either." Tom Becker DVD Verdict wrote, "Chaos isn't a great movie, but it's entertaining and manages to keep you off-kilter for much of its running time. While the film is ultimately too clever for its own good, Giglio gets points for trying to smart-up the genre." Also writing to DVD Verdict, David Johnson said, "Chaos may not redefine what's possible in the police suspense thriller, but it's satisfying and entertaining enough to earn a look-see by fans of the genre or anyone hankering for a decent, plot-twist-heavy actioner."