The Chase (1994)

"Rule number one is no burning the guy with the gun."
                         - Charlie Sheen to Kristie Swanson

Ah, the seventies. The era of truck chases (CONVOY), car races (THE
GUMBALL RALLY), and even truck/car chases (SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT).
Remember those fast, funny, throwaway movies?  They were perfect popcorn
pictures in a way-too-serious time. But after John Landis filmed the
definitive everything-but-the-kitchen-sink car-chase in THE BLUES
BROTHERS, the genre died a quiet death.  Stuntman cum director Hal
Needham filmed THE CANNONBALL RUN II in 1984 and that was that.

Now, ten years too late, comes THE CHASE.  This roadkill of a picture is
truly awful entertainment-- especially in comparison of what came
before. In their heyday, even the worst chase films had a few things
going for them. Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise were usually close. And,
sometimes, so were Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. There were some buxom
babes, some decent stunts, and a ton of bad jokes.

THE CHASE *also* has a ton of bad jokes. But instead of Burt Reynolds
and his hairpiece, there's Charlie Sheen and his what-I-am-I-doing-here
stare. He's a man on the lam, wrongly convicted for a robbery he didn't
do. He's kidnapped a daddy's rich daughter (Kristie Swanson) and her red

Exhibit A: a babe and a fast car.

Hot on his heels are the cops as comic relief. But don't look for ol'
Pink Eyes here. Pop stars have given way to rock stars and Dean Martin
has been replaced by Henry Rollins. Who sucks. For added "enjoyment," a
couple Red Hot Chili Peppers wander through as a pair of "Beavis and
Butthead" types trying to capture Charlie.

Heh heh heh.

Writer/director Adam Rifkin doesn't have a clue on how to stage a car
chase. His MTV-style quick-cuts make the action virtually impossible to
follow. But does the director compensate with anything even *resembling*
snappy dialogue?  Not.

Sample wit:  Swanson gets car sick and heaves a load onto a police car
windshield. A character then observes: "That is a lot of puke."

With no decent dialogue *or* action to speak of, the film's saving grace
are a few good slams on media mentality. Every so often, Rifkin cuts to
a tabloid-news program promoting something along the lines of "Kidnapped
at 100 MPH." These are good bits that are boosted by a nifty cameo that
I won't reveal here.  (The secret is: he's a man.)

Most of this race is a drag. Ray Wise and Claudia Christian are
scene-killers as the pompous parents. Plot-holes are the size of
pot-holes, from exploding helicopters to disappearing vomit. Or, my
favorite, a day that turns to night in under eight minutes.

There's even a thrash-metal soundtrack to help accentuate the negative.

THE CHASE may be someone's idea of hip wit. But it bears little
resemblance to those great chases of not-so-long-ago when a road film
was not highway robbery.  (Rated "PG-13"/85 min.)

NOTE:  Believe it or not, there's one gag in THE CHASE that redeems the
entire experience. And it's not even in the film!  Stay through the
closing credits and see a joke that, for my money, is the funniest I've
seen this season.  Go figure.

BOTTOM LINE:  Awful action-comedy from writer-director Alan Rifkin.
Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson make a cute couple, but there's not a
stitch of decent dialogue or admirable action to support them.

Grade: D+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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