Chill Factor Movie Review

When will the Hollywood moguls learn? I'll admit that we liked Speed way back in 1994 despite atrocious acting and a bogus plot. But all the money and success that movie earned seems to have given the wrong impression to the big wigs at the major studios. "Action-film-overkill," as I like to call it, has long since destroyed much of the innovation that came from Speed's once exciting premise. We're on the verge of a new millennium here. I only hope that it's going to take a little more creativity to keep us on the edge of our seats than a recycled plot, two stars, and some explosions.

Instead of a rigged bus that must stay above 55 mph, Chill Factor introduces a chemical weapon so powerful that it can destroy a third of the country's population--- but only if it's temperature rises above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

So it's up to our heroes Tom Mason (Skeet Ulrich - Scream, As Good As It Gets) and Arlo (Cuba Gooding Jr. - Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets) to save America from certain peril. The random duo wind up custodians of the deadly chemical explosive, dubbed "Elvis" by its developer (David Paymer), after he is shot in an attempt to steal the weapon. Before he dies, the scientist manages to drive the weapon to the local diner where Mason works the night shift and explains that it needs to be delivered to safely to Fort MacGruder (outside of Montana) or else.

The terrorists are led by former General Andre Brynner (Peter Firth) who is seeking revenge for ten years at Fort Leavenworth prison after taking the fall for a mishap that killed eighteen of his men when the chemical weapon was first developed. His downfall and subsequent years in the slammer have transformed his loyalty away from the American government where he devised a plan to kill the scientist who created the weapon, steal it, and sell it for millions.

Can two average guys from Jerome, Montana equipped with an ice-cream truck and an unloaded handgun prevent the weapon from falling into wrong hands and keep it below 50 degrees? In the movies anything can happen.

Director Hugh Johnson's (G.I. Jane, 1492: Invasion of Paradise) plot is predictable and even Cuba Gooding Jr.'s charismatic presence can't salvage this flick. This makes two recent films that show poor judgment in choosing roles after last year's debacle with What Dreams May Come. His popularity has undoubtedly cooled since wining the Oscar for best supporting actor for Jerry Maguire in 1997 and costarring in As Good As It Gets.

$40 million was spent in the making of this film. A relative bargain for action movies these days. Its limited budget is apparent judging from the quality of the supporting actors and short cuts with slow-mo on the special effects. Most importantly, the film failed to excite. That's a real bad sign for an action thriller, especially when the audience has a good idea about what is going to happen.

The producers should have come to me for some ideas. I could have given them at least a couple million ways to make the film better.


Chill Factor Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: R, 1999


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