The Chase (1994) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexual references, sensuality, and language
Running Time: 89 min.
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, Henry Rollins, Ray Wise, Josh Mostel, Wayne Grace, Rocky Carroll, Miles Dougal, Bree Walker Lampley, Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Ron Jeremy (Ron Hyatt), Cary Elwes (cameo)
Director: Adam Rifkin
Screenplay: Adam Rifkin
Review published November 24, 2006
Jack Swanson (Sheen, The Rookie) is a escaped inmate making a simple purchase at a gas station convenience store when he is approached by two police officers claiming that his vehicle is stolen. Not wanting to go back to prison on another trumped-up charge, Jack grabs a hostage and makes his way into her sporty BMW, with the cops in hot pursuit down the freeway. It turns out that the hostage is not only very attractive, but she is also Natalie Voss (Swanson, The Phantom), daughter of billionaire Dalton Voss (Wise, RoboCop), which just might be enough of a ticket for Jack to make his escape into Mexico.
The Chase is an action-comedy so inept, it seems almost like an attempt at an art film. Perhaps I'm being generous, as it is difficult to believe that anyone would make a film this knowingly bad unintentionally. Unfortunately, even taken as a semi-satire of the chase film genre, the delivery is still mystifyingly off, never content to settle into a discernible groove for very long, while the gags lack humor, bite, or moments of intrigue.
Everything is played campy and over the top, with plenty of explosions, quick-cut editing, and a sense of humor that aims very low. Perhaps the only thing that I enjoyed is the pop-punk-funk soundtrack, which is apropos for a movie that features Henry Rollins (in his feature film acting debut), as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis and Flea, in prominent roles.
If all you're expecting is a no-brain chase flick, you'll certainly get plenty of that, as the film is a pursuit film from beginning to end. However, even on that level, this is still an anemic action film, offering nothing to provoke mental engagement, save for a few moments of sensual titillation and violence. The real Achilles heel is the lack of genuinely good humor; while the tone stays light, the jokes are bad, as is the intentionally goofy manner in which they are delivered.
If your brand of comedy comes from the "vomit out of the car window and watch it splatter on the cop car behind you" and the "cadavers falling out of a medical truck to be crushed under speeding vehicles" variety, The Chase is probably the kind of thing made for someone like you. Everyone else will most likely shut this thing off after 10 minutes, and right fully so, as the film gets dumber and more desperate as it draws closer to its asinine finale. An intentionally stupid movie made strictly for those who like stupid movies, The Chase is cinematic road kill.
©2006 Vince Leo