The most striking image you come across when starting to watch Chapter 27 is when the camera first lingers on the face of Jared Leto, who portrays Mark David Chapman. Those familiar with Leto will know he is normally as thin as a rake but he had to gain 67 pounds to play the overweight Chapman and it is quite the transformation.

Mark David Chapman is the man responsible for the murder of one John Lennon, and though I find there is an interest in this story given Lennon’s legendary profile then and, of course, now I find it hard to understand why this film got made. The action takes place during the three days leading up to the assignation of the former Beatle and tries to get into the mind-set of Chapman and give the audience an insight into what was going on in his head to lead him to commit this unforgivable act.

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The film bravely shoots in all the locations where the actual events unfolded; the title refers to a continuation of the novel JD Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye, which ends on Chapter 26. A clearly unstable Chapman attempted to model his life on the book's main character, Holden Caulfield, and according to some reports had a goal to write Chapter 27 in his personal copy of the book, in Lennon’s blood.

Most of the film's narration is creepy, eerie and unsettling, Leto gives a brave valiant portrayal of Chapman and his voice-over is whiny and confused as he battles with the thoughts running through his mentally ill mind.

Lindsay Lohan's involvement as a female fan is laughable and adds nothing to the film apart from her name to the credits. Leto probably hoped this would be the role that provided him with real indie credibility but, sadly, this is not the case. Leto is a great actor and gives his all when playing this much-loathed individual but what works against him is a lacklustre script and direction from Schaefer that’s both flat and uninteresting.

Chapter 27 comes off purely as exploitation, where the film makers had hoped that the movie would arrive at a time in which people would be ready to try to understand why this atrocity took place. But what unfolds is nothing more than depressing.

An unnecessary, unforgivable film - much like the crime committed by Chapman which the film-makers were so intent in retelling. Go seek out some old Beatles' classics to listen to and morn the world’s great loss, instead of wasting your time watching this cinematic catastrophe. Avoid.

Reviewed on: 12 May 2008
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The days leading up to the assassination of John Lennon.
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Tony Sullivan ****

Director: Jarrett Schaefer

Writer: Jarrett Schaefer

Starring: Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Judah Friedlander, Ursula Abbott, George Bryant II, Kevin Cannon, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Melissa Demyan, Jeane Fournier, Molly Griffith, Matthew Humphreys,

Year: 2007

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: US, Canada


Sundance 2007

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The Killing Of John Lennon