If you think running equals action, then you'll love the formula thriller Chain Reaction. Keanu Reeves stars as Eddie Kasalivich, a machinist involved in experiments to turn hydrogen into a universal energy source that will save the world and ease our "addiction to petroleum." But when a band of shadowy figures infiltrate the lab where Eddie works, people die, eight square blocks of the South side of Chicago blow sky high, and Eddie and physicist Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz) are set up to take the fall. Going on the lam, Eddie becomes a kind of anti-pollution superhero able to leap tall bridges in a single bound and outrun a hydrogen explosion on a motorcycle. Fred Ward and Kevin Dunn are the well-meaning FBI agents who initially chase Eddie and Lily but then begin to suspect other parts of our nefarious government, like the CIA. Paul Shannon (Morgan Freeman), Eddie's enigmatic boss, has enough impressive connections to money, governments, and worldwide power mongers to make George W. envious and the mystery lies in detecting where Shannon's motives and sympathies lay. But mostly there is running lots and lots of running. In fact, Reeves spends most of the movie running. Oddly, all this running slows down the film, undermining the espionage and intrigue, which are the elements that give story its only sense of excitement. Reeves plays Eddie in a straightforward, humorless manner one that lacks a smart-ass edge that makes him more engaging in this kind of role. Weisz holds her own in a part that might have served as a training ground for the physical hardships she encountered in her future Mummy roles. Casting the pensive Morgan Freeman always raises the dignity-level of a film, but it's not enough to save this picture from mediocrity (which probably explains its less-than-stellar performance at the box office). With elements of The Fugitive (also directed by Andrew Davis), Chain Reaction comes across as an homage to Jan De Bont, director of Reeves in Speed and cinematographer for Die Hard, but it lacks the excitement of either of those films. Fox's DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with audio in DTS and Dolby Digital 4.1. Theatrical trailer and TV spot. Keep-case.
Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]