Monday, December 29, 2014

1PanelReview Chain Reaction

Imagine... The Fugitive starring Keanu Reeves, with a lot more science-fiction and explosions.

What it is: Chain Reaction 

Which is: An action/thriller film
Directed by: Andrew Davis
Year: 1996

Chain Reaction is a 1996 action film by The Fugitive's director Andrew Davis. It stars Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman and Rachel Weisz. The movie starts with a long prologue where a bunch of scientists working for what they thought to be the government discovering a new possible source of power that could replace oil and nuclear, based on hydrogen...until most of them are killed so this new discovery is kept secret and not given for free all over the world. Then it simply becomes The Fugitive with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz running from the cops/FBI. But who is the real bad guy?...

What's Good about it: Chain Reaction is a fairly fun typical 1990s action film.
Our protagonist is framed for a crime he didn't commit, his closest friends are murdered and he ends up having to run from the cops hot on his tail, If that sounds familiar to you, it's because point-by-point the synopsis of The Fugitive. But don't cry for a ripoff, these films were both directed by Andrew Davis.
Davis simply decided to reshot the same movie he already made three years later. With added Keanu Reeves acting.
Keanu always brings this kind of cheesy silly acting, which makes things better.

Back then despite coming right off the success of Speed, Keanue was still mostly known for his lighter roles such as Ted from Bill & Ted. (The Matrix was still a couple years away from being made.)
Chain Reaction is sort of The Fugitive with a more eco-friendly message, as these two researchers  end up having to run from people wanting to stop (or control) this new alternative energy they developed.
The film is also one of the rare instances we get to see Morgan Freeman portray a more "villainous" figure, which is kinda telegraphed here since he's always seen smocking cigars through the film.
Like most action films back in the day, it follows the standard Die Hard formula, with an added conspiracy twist.
There's lots of fun recognizable faces in Chain Reaction, surprisingly!
Fun fact, the film also used several similar actors from The Fugitive in the same roles. Both movies used the same two detectives, several cops and even that same reporter asking questions at the beginning of the film. Both were also filmed mostly in Chicago. Neil Flynn, who played "the Janitor" on Scrubs, was that cop that tried detaining Harrison Ford (and was killed by accident, getting Ford labeled as a copkiller) can be seen here trying to also detain Keanu on a rooftop (and also gets killed which gets Keanu labeled a copkiller the same way).

What's Bad about it: It's another of these Die Hard-ripoffs of that era.
Chain Reaction is really not particularly that good.
The plot twists are kind of easy to see coming miles away.
It's pretty cheesy, specially all of the film's most outlandish "scifi" aspects from the way their supposedly hydrogen-based new engine works to all the cheesy action scenes and typcial 90s explosions.
If you're not a big fan of Keanu, this movie won't certainly change that.
Specially the way he always portray any character with the same monotonous voice and expressionless face.
At some point you realize it's another one of these films that portrays different authorities of the government turning against each other. So much, the film's basically FBI vs. CIA: The Movie.
It's basically The Fugitive, only a lot more cheesy and it aged badly.

Overall: Chain Reaction is not a bad film. It's mostly kind of average and generic.

But the film contains some pretty thrilling chase scenes even though narrative is kind of stupid and much of the conspiracy doesn't make much sense. It's just feels a bit more generic than its predecessor.

It's sort of a "spiritual successor" to The Fugitive, before it actually got a "proper sequel" (that will be the subject for another time).

It has some pretty decent activating and captivating action scenes.

The only problem is that it feels like Andrew Davis came across The Fugitive screenplay and had forgotten he already filmed it before...
I give it: 1.5 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

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