Steven Yeun stars as Derek Cho, a lawyer for a financial institution that is on lockdown after a virus is released in their headquarters in Mayhem, a violent and sometimes darkly humorous satire about big business. Cho is on his way out of the company after he is shafted by one of his co-workers named The Siren. If that was not enough, Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving) comes to ask for help on her impending foreclosure on her mortgage only to be told there was nothing that could be done. When the virus is released the whole skyscraper is quarantined for twenty-four hours until the CDC and other authorities can sort this out. The virus basically reduces everyone to their animalistic impulses turning them into violent psychopaths.
If this plot sounds familiar it is because The Belko Experiment was released a little earlier this year and was basically the same plot. Somewhere in Mayhem is lurking a satire, of sorts and sometimes it works. Other times Mayhem degenerates into nothing more than a routine action picture. What saves Mayhem is Yeun and Weaving. Steven Yeun, after being killed off from The Walking Dead, reveals there is a little more to his screen presence than just playing Glenn. Here, he is stronger and shows he has leading man capabilities and Samara Weaving is wild and spunky as Melanie Cross. I just wish the script had been a little smarter about big business.
Argentinian writer Matias Caruso has written his first feature-length screenplay with Mayhem and he has the right idea, but we get little past big-business-sucks and the rich, bigwigs suck, too. There are some humorous moments that had me chuckling but this is an exceedingly violent film which will be too much for some viewers. DirectorJoe Lynch has an eye for action but after a while, Mayhem starts to repeat itself with very little observations that are new or fresh. About the only things we can enjoy is the chemistry between Derek and Melanie and some very fresh editing by Josh Ethier which keeps the pacing up.
Mayhem has been getting some rave reviews and is not an awful film. It has some impressive cinematography by Steve Gainer and an interesting score provided by Steven Moore. There is also a very funny performance by the under-utilized Dallas Roberts as The Reaper, an HR head that you do not want knocking on your door. The problem is that he has very little screen time, but the scenes he is in, Mayhem bristles with originality. Overall, Mayhem has lofty intentions and works only about half of the time. Still, if you are looking for something darkly humorous and with some bloody violence, Mayhem might fit the ticket.
Mayhem – **3/4 out of 5
Mayhem – Rated R for graphic language, graphic violence and a sex scene
Mayhem – Run Time is 86 minutes
Mayhem is now playing in select cities and is available On Demand. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you and your local cable provider for pricing and availability for On Demand services.