[Movie Review] CHOP CHOP
Courtesy of Kamikaze Dogfight
“Who the hell are you people?” It’s an excellent question posed by a character in director Rony Patel’s new film CHOP CHOP, but unfortunately it’s never answered. Neither are the questions “What the hell is happening?” or “Why the hell should the audience care?”

Chuck (Jake Taylor) and Olivia (Atala Arce) are a couple getting ready for date night. After a disappointing sexual encounter and some awkward dinner conversation, Olivia gets up to answer a knock at the door. In one of the only interesting or suspenseful moments in the film, a pizza delivery man (Teddy Harper) stands at the door staring intently at Olivia. When she tells him that they didn’t order a pizza, he continues to stare, telling her in a disconcerting cadence, “It’s. For. You.” He makes his way inside the apartment in an unconventional manner that’s never explained, and when Olivia kills him in self-defense, she sets off a strange journey through a bizarre criminal underworld.

Events happening without explanation are the only glue that holds this film together. It’s less a story than it is a series of vignettes involving unclear motivations and a backstory for Chuck and Olivia that is as hazy as it is uninteresting. It becomes evident that the couple have a history in this seedy underworld, but they’re so terrible at it that the viewer wonders how they haven’t been killed long before they run into the supernatural pizza delivery man and his sadistic cohorts. Chuck and Olivia are horrible liars, they make awful decisions in the heat of the moment, and they’re far too trusting of pretty much everyone they meet. Taylor and Arce play their roles with a blank stoicism that feels like it’s supposed to come across like sociopathy or the studied casualness of career criminals. Instead, they just seem bored or so in over their heads that they can’t comprehend anything that’s happening. It makes it nearly impossible for the viewer to invest in their characters or care about what happens to them. We’re just as checked out as the protagonists are.

CHOP CHOP feels like a random collection of scenes that sounded cool on paper but never coalesce into a coherent narrative. There are some good performances in the film — Harper is truly terrifying in his opening scene, and Mikael Mattsson is alternately chilling and hilarious as Clark, another random character who seems to exist only to torture people and accept mysterious packages. The viewer just never knows how those performances connect to each other or why they should care about what’s happening on screen. CHOP CHOP is a frustrating exercise in what could have been rather than the intriguing crime thriller it wants to be. CHOP CHOP will be available to rent or buy on iTunes and Prime Video October 20th, 2020.

Jessica Scott
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