It's a well-worn cliché that notorious killers, especially of the serial variety, are described as nice, quiet, and absolutely the last person anyone would expect to have a basement decorated with human skulls. Well, if any of the other characters were asked to describe Jared Leto's Mark David Chapman in the leaden, slow-motion train-wreck that is Chapter 27, they'd probably say he was a clearly unhinged loner, obviously on the verge of committing a horrible crime. There are wild-eyed lunatics gnawing their way through straightjackets in asylums who are less ostentatiously crazy than Leto is here. It'd be tempting to call the film a bizarre vanity project for executive producer/part-time pop-star Leto, but it's actually characterized by a surreal lack of vanity. Leto gained nearly 70 pounds to play a fat, bloated, repulsive loser, and he's equally repugnant from a psychological standpoint.
In a performance of voluminous quantity and negligible quality, Leto acts up a storm as a lost, disturbed spiritual seeker who labors under the delusion that he's the living embodiment of Holden Caulfield, the tragic anti-hero of Catcher In The Rye, and must kill John Lennon. Throughout his tragic trip to New York City, Leto floats in and out of the lives of peripheral characters like Lindsay Lohan's sweet-natured Beatles buff and Judah Friedlander's understandably freaked-out paparazzo; he tries to make a human connection, but proves his own worst enemy.
E-Nuhn-Cee-Ayting every overwritten line as floridly and melodramatically as possible, Leto delivers a performance that unwittingly suggests Truman Capote playing Travis Bickle in a poverty-row remake of Taxi Driver. Writer-director J.P. Schaefer tries to plunge audiences deep inside his protagonist's tortured psyche through constant, comically over-the-top voiceover narration, but ends up wallowing in overwrought pop-goth clichés. It's never an encouraging sign when a film about the murder of John Lennon has audiences rooting for the climactic shooting, just so a dreary, sordid, worthless film will come to a merciful end. Perhaps the harshest criticism that can be directed at Chapter 27 is that it's awful even for a late-period Lindsay Lohan movie. It might even be bad enough to inspire Catcher author J.D. Salinger to break his decades of public silence to speak out against this high-camp fiasco.