The title for the film Chapter 27 is a reference to the novel Catcher in the Ray, a book that has 26 Chapters. It is also a book that was integral in Mark David Chapman’s assassination of John Lennon.
I’m a big fan of The Beatles (although I am more of a McCartney man than a Lennon fan) and The Catcher in the Rye is my favourite novel, so obviously I was very interested in watching Chapter 27. In fact Chapter 27 relies very heavily on the fact that you must know a great deal about, or at the very least have read J.D Salinger’s legendary book. If you haven’t then some of the dialogue comes across as pretentious and “phoney” – a word that Jared Leto’s Chapman uses non-stop throughout the film. The word is used constantly throughout the novel by Holden Caulfield – Catcher in The Rye’s protagonist, narrator and Chapman’s role model/alter-ego.
In many ways it is Chapter 27’s connection to The Catcher in the Rye that lets the film down. The films structure and scenes borrow liberally from Salinger’s novel – and it’s almost as if writer-director J.P Schaefer wanted to make a film adaptation of Salinger’s iconic text but couldn’t obtain the screen rights.
The main selling point to the film is Jared Leto’s performance as Mark Chapman. Leto delivers a solid enough performance and his weight gain for the film is impressive, however one has to wonder if he just did it in the hope of winning an Oscar(not a chance). He just doesn’t have enough to work with in the script, whilst he is on screen for almost the entire duration of the film we learn very little about what drove Mark Chapman to kill one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.
If you’re going into Chapter 27 as a fan of Lyndsay Lohan, be warned. The former child star has only a handful of scenes tallying up to less than 10 minutes screen time. It appears to be yet another “gimmick” to sell the film. Her entire role appears to be contrived – from her name (Jude) to her relationship with Sean Lennon and his nanny – something I’m pretty sure will upset Lennon’s family.
In many ways Chapter 27 is a pointless film. There is little or no substance to Leto’s Chapman – we don’t really learn anything his past or his motivations – something that I think should have been central to the film. Is he killing Lennon because he thinks that he is evil? Is he killing him because he wants to become famous? This is never explained.
The film also depends too much on J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and let’s be honest…you don’t want to compare your film to one of the greatest books ever written and because of this, Chapter 27 is a plodding curiosity of a film that ignores everything that could have made it interesting.