Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Chase (1994)

The Action Mutant…
has been Straight Edge for about 5 hours now!

The Chase (1994)

review by Joe Burrows

Man, the 1990s was an F’ed up decade for film, wasn’t it? Aside from ending the decade with the last classic year in cinema (doesn’t anyone remember how many great films there were in ’99?), 90s cinema was also in a race to be more totally self-conscious in its culture than the 80s was. And boy was the nail hit on the head a number of times! Who can forget Cool as Ice? Or Jury Duty? Or High School High? Ok, there were better examples of 90s cinema having their fingers on the pulse of American culture. There was even a film that had to do with a California police chase…except it was released months before the one you’re thinking of. Remember, contact the FBI if you know who the real killers are.

The Plot, as it was:
Charlie Sheen is Jack Hammond, an honest schlep that has just been wrongly convicted of being a clown-faced criminal known as the “Red Nosed Robber”. Not wanting to become housemates with a prisoner named Bubba just yet, Jack takes a pretty young thing named Natalie (Kristy Swanson) hostage and the two speed off onto the California highway. Of course, he just happened to kidnap the heiress of millionaire Dalton Voss (Ray Wise), which means this is not Jack’s day. Within moments, all kinds of cops and news reporters are on the chase, trailing the duo as Jack heads off to Tijuana. Of course, the two hate each other at first but…you know.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Well, you got to give it to the makers of The Chase; it’s not boring. At 94 minutes, the film spends no time on setup or anything and just jumps right into the fray. Director Adam Rifkin follows the first rule of Car Chase Films 101: Don’t let the action lag (and add some kick ass music, like NOFX and Bad Religion). There is always something just short of the kitchen sink being thrown out to grab your attention and by the end of it; your 90 minutes on a rainy afternoon have been killed effectively. As a nice surprise, there are some good satiric moments as it concerns the fine line the news media walks between information and entertainment (such as a reporter hanging off the side of a speeding news van to get an interview). I also got to give points for the casting of this effort. Charlie does his usual “young Leslie Nielsen” shtick to perfection and has pretty good chemistry with Buffy #1. And any film that has Henry Rollins as a cop (of all things), Cary Elwes as a newscaster named Steve Horsegroovy, Anthony Kiedis & Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as two valley boy troublemakers AND Ron Jeremy as your cameraman, deserves some sort of merit. The ending does blow, however, as the easy way out is taken and everything kind of falls flat. Regardless, The Chase is a fun ride as long as you don’t think too much (and are patient enough to stay until the closing credits are done).

Body Count/Violence: 0. Sure, there is the part where a medical van breaks open and cadavers spill out onto the road. And there is the dream sequence where Sheen walks out of the car and is shot about a dozen times by police. But this is a relatively death-less movie. It’s ok though because the vehicular collateral damage is pretty high (though it’s not Smokey and the Bandit II or anything).

Sexuality/Nudity: Swanson mounts Sheen while he’s driving and the two engage in a little “highway delight”. Nothing’s shown or anything and it’s a pretty ridiculous scene, as it’s filmed with sunny backdrops outside the windows and has several quick cuts. Rifkin must have thought that was the bomb when it was brainstormed during the sleepover with the writers. Still, I can’t knock them too much because it’s Kristy Swanson.

Language/Dialogue: An F bomb or two is dropped, along with some milder stuff. Remember, we got to get the kids out to the theaters somehow, hence the PG-13.

How bad was it?:
It was dumped on by a lot of critics but some called it a pleasant surprise. The latter critics accepted it as being popcorn fare, which is really all it is.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
20th Century Fox released The Chase on 3/4/94. It finished 5th and fell all the way to 13th the next week, necessitating a 49% drop in audience. The film grossed only $8 million in its run and (though no budget records were released) was pretty much D.O.A.
Like Kristy Swanson’s career (groan).

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.


Anonymous said...

Fun movie helped greatly by Charlie Sheen.

Joe Burrows said...

Agreed. Charlie may never be looked at as a classic, dramatic actor but his comedic timing has been spot on in many films (Hot Shots, Hot Shots: Part Deux, Money Talks,etc.).