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Eddie Kasalivich, an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, works as a technician for a scientific team that discovers an alternative, low-cost, pollution-free fuel source. When one of the chief scientists is murdered and the invention stolen, Eddie and physicist Lily Sinclair are framed for it and have to flee for their lives, with the FBI, CIA and other involved parties in close pursuit. Paul Shannon, Eddies mentor, is the director of a scientific company which - unknown to Eddie - has commercial interests in the invention. Eddie and Lily set out to find the stolen invention and hopefully clear themselves of the false charges. Written by
The Ramp Runner
An actor filmed a scene saying the words "...a disturbance at the Smithsonian" but the words "science museum" were dubbed over Smithsonian instead. See more »
[after shooting and killing Lyman Collier]
I didn't tell you, Lyman, but your retirement had already been arranged.
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As the end credits come to the end, the music fades out and a rumble gets louder and louder. This is the start of a shockwave resulting from the massive explosion at the end of the film. The viewpoint is of Keanu Reeves who by now is in a helicopter and comes straight on screen after the last of the credits has gone up. The ground implodes briefly and you hear Agent Ford say "Whoa!". See more »
My Take: A formulaic action movie with some impressive set pieces marred by lackluster writing.
Student machinist Keanu Reeves is framed for murder and sabotage of a research laboratory he works in, and is forced to run for his life while trying to prove his innocence. This is not another sequel to THE FUGITIVE, it's actually CHAIN REACTION; a techno chase-thriller from director Andrew Davis, who also directed THE FUGITIVE. Like in that superior film, Davis displays his skills at staging perfectly exciting yet quite plausible action sequences. Unfortunately, the script this time is built around the action, rather than vice versa.
The film's plot, about the discovery of water as a main component for creating a cheaper source of energy, is almost abandoned for most of the film in favor of a fairly ordinary chase thriller that has Reeves running from the FBI after being suspected for sabotage, being the only person alive after the explosion of the lab. And boy does he run! The chase moves from jumping from a bridge to chases in snowmobiles or helicopters. In fairness, Davis stages action very well and the stunts here are just what we expect from the man who perfectly staged the train wreck scene in THE FUGITIVE. Unfortunately, the movie stops being thrilling when it becomes a bit too predictable and rather pointless. It's just one chase after another as Reeves and companion Rachel Weisz dodges the feds for 107 minutes until they unmask the true saboteur (which, I suspect, the audience may have already found out halfway).
Morgan Freeman is pretty good in a role that demands more of him, and Reeves is once again more impressive in the action rather than in the acting. But unlike in other movies like SPEED, Reeves fails to even display charisma or exhibit any chemistry with his female co-star Weisz (or is it because their characters really just doesn't have enough time to connect?). And when it all finally comes to a close, it didn't feel quite like the end of a movie but the end of a really long chase (of chase). As cinematic junk food goes, CHAIN REACTION is harmless and watchable, but even other mindless action movies have more meat than this.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5.
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