Movie Review: Chain Reaction

© 1997 Dan Heller

Quick Summary: If you love action movies, you might like this. But, despite some positive points, it's a yawner, complete with a cliche plot, villian(s), chase scenes and special effects, all couched in a backdrop involving world-changing, bigger-than-life technology. Now, I don't think the movie is a total dud -- I didn't have a terrible time like i did in Twister. so, despite the bad review I give it, many people will probably love this film. It'll be on video in notime, if you can wait. :-)

The movie stars Keaneu Reeves and Morgan Freeman, as well as a cast of minor characters played by moderately successful stars you'll recognize from other movies or tv shows. The basic plot is that a group of scientists discover a way to produce a form of cold fusion using hydrogen. (The theory is that you don't need to use nuclear power to create vast amounts of energy.) Within hours of its discovery, the plant is destroyed along with everyone and everything -- except for Freeman, Reeves, and a female physicist. The movie then goes into a big pursuit of Reeves and the Physicist, who are running because they know that the accident was planned and that the "villian(s) is trying to kill them.

I'll start with the positive points. Keanau Reeves doesn't drive you nuts as he usually does, with bad lines, unbelievable char- acter scenarios, or the expectation he's going to say "dude!", as he did in Bill and Ted's movies. In fact, the script is not that bad because it doesn't have a lot of objectionable silliness like one-liner jokes in tense situations. The movie takes itself very seriously, and it stays true to that theme. It doesn't insult you with ridiculous explanations for technology that hollywood doesn't understand. The director made a very good choice by presenting the fact that the technology exists and that we don't need to understand it to appreciate the movie.

But, all of these positive things don't outweigh the negative aspects. First, there is a major problem with the plot in that the bad guys destroy the entire experiment without even knowing how to reproduce the results! Given what they want to do, you'd think they wouldn't overlook such an obvious point. When they find that Reeves and the physicist are still alive, they make extremely obvious and haphazzard attempts at framing them, which even the small children next to me could figure out. But does the FBI catch onto this? Not for a very long time. And speaking of a long time to figure something out, it isn't till near the end that the bad guys realize they need Reeves and the physicist alive to get them to reproduce the experiment. And they constantly threaten them with comic-book-style bad-guy threats, hardly motivating for smart people who know the ramifactions of their success.

But, the reason why all these things happen is that the bad guys just aren't well-conceived. They are rather flat, two-dimensional, and have pretty unrealistic ideas about how the world works, which is their prime motivation for going to such extremes. The problem with *that* is that people who are this misinfomred, couldn't possibly have gotten into the positions they were in to accomplish this task. so, the premise of the movie lost its credibility.

Also important points to me are the characters and their interactions: for me, they just aren't interesting by themselves. Reeves just lacks charisma, not really compelling you to think or feel one way or another. Morgan Freeman, who seems to always be interesting, no matter what movie he's in, is sadly cast in a role of someone whose politics is not only a little juvenile and unbecoming, but it flies in the fact of the intelligence of both Freeman the actor, and of the character he's playing.

Lastly, the movie had too many non-sequiturs and serious logic flaws: the ability to walk around a high-security facility, unnoticed, using computers, etc.. Many events happen all too conveniently and coincidentally for Reeves... He needs a police car, so there's one right there. Whatever he needs, something comes up right away and he's out of trouble. he doesn't have to work hard enough to stay alive.
Photo Gallery