I hate to borrow material from another film critic, but a colleague of mine offered the following words after we finished watching Chapter 27: "It's like a feature-length version of De Niro's 'You talkin' to me' speech from Taxi Driver -- only without Scorsese, Schrader or De Niro." I repeat that sentence because it perfectly encapsulates my own opinion on the deadly dull and seriously dreary Chapter 27, a movie that promises to offer some insight into why Mark David Chapman, on one chilly night in 1980, shot the beloved John Lennon to death. But after 90-some minutes of J.P. Schaefer's writing/directing debut, I was no closer to understanding Chapman's motivations than I was 90 minutes earlier. I know it has something to do with J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, but any other specifics are lost beneath waves of babble, tedium and pretense.
Lead actor Jared Leto earned himself a producer's credit on Chapter 27, and it's blatantly obvious from the first few frames of the flick that the young actor really, ahem, beefed up for the role. And Leto wants you to know it, which is why we see Chapman parading around in his tighty-whities for two or three scenes. Jared might as well look directly into the camera lens and scream "Look how much weight I gained for this role!" To make matters worse, Leto (who, to be fair, has done some excellent work in movies like Panic Room, American Psycho and Requiem for a Dream) opts to brandish a rather nasally high-pitched squeak of a voice, which makes Chapter 27 feel like a straight-faced parody of Capote. And I don't think that's what Leto and Company were going for.