Chasers (1994)

"Welcome to Jarhead City." - Tom Berenger to William McNamara, as they
arrive at Camp Lejeune, NC

Sad is the day when a new film from Dennis Hopper-- the man who helped
defined a generation with EASY RIDER-- is heralded with hardly any
fanfare.  Granted, CHASERS is not exactly industrial-strength
movie-making, but Hopper's first film (as a director) since THE HOT SPOT
is an mildly agreeable road-pic about a pair of Navy men (Berenger and
McNamara) who run into trouble escorting a military prisoner back to
base.  Shades of THE LAST DETAIL?  Not exactly.

The story introduces Eddie Devane (William McNamara)-- a swaggering
smooth-talker assigned to "chaser duty" on the day before his discharge.
His orders are to report to gruff security officer "Rock" Reilly (Tom
Berenger) and assist in the transport of a "dangerous" prisoner from
Camp Lejeune.  What neither man knows is that their cargo (Erika
Eleniak) is female and better suited to the pages of Playboy than
prison. That small surprise turns into a big problem when the boys
discover that appearances are quite deceiving..

There isn't much of a plot to CHASERS, and the script's idea of
sophistication is clogging a fuel tank with tampons. What little story
there is disappears somewhere in the second hour, but that's no problem
because the leads are okay and they keep the chemistry going when the
plot isn't.

McNamara is the best of the bunch and the only one with anything
resembling a character. He's fun to watch because he recalls a younger
Tom Cruise with his doesn't-have-a-clue-and-doesn't-know-it smile.
Berenger glares and growls through his "role" and Eleniak
weakly smiles through hers. To be fair, the actress tries her hand at a
couple moving monologues. Key word: tries.

They hit the road in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and start south on a
trip teeming with local color. Hopper's hopper is filled with monster
trucks and BBQ huts and sign after sign for yet another Baptist church.
Anyone who's traveled the length of coastal Carolina can appreciate a
fist-fight staged on a tacky miniature-golf green. (Is there any other

The fringe also features a bevy of bit-parts including Hopper as a
traveling salesman with more than just fabric samples in his trunk;
Gary Busey as a Navy-hating marine; Dean Stockwell as a golf-playing
Porsche salesman; and Crispin Glover as McNamara's nervous

Together, they make one happy family that keeps CHASERS from sinking
lower than it should.  (Rated "R"/112 min.)

BOTTOM LINE:  Mildly agreeable road-pic about a pair of Navy men who run
into trouble escorting a military prisoner back to base.  The guilty
pleasure here doesn't come from the leads, but, rather, from the local
color and a bevy of interesting bit-parts.


Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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