Chill Factor (1999)

(In theaters, August 1999) A sad paradigm of the stereotypical Hollywood formula action film. Use an easily-graspable premise (two strangers stuck with chemical weapon that detonates if heated up at more than 50F), an unbeatable pitch to studio executives (“Speed on ice!”), two young and popular lead actors (Skeet Ulrich and Cuba Gooding Jr.), terrorist villains and the expected plot twists. Those still hoping for a moderately entertaining film are in for a disappointment. It’s not that these is no chemistry between the actors (though it takes a while to get going) or not interesting stunts (a few action scenes are mildly exciting), but the movie’s flaws overcome its few assets. For one thing, it suffers from serious tone problems, throwing in dramatic tension and dead bodies with wisecracking buddies and over-the-top histrionics. The numerous plot holes (why not bring back Elvis where it started, why let the terrorists go, why “forget” about the ventilation shaft at first?, etc…) don’t help. The choppy action scenes don’t allow us to get involved in the tension. But these are nothing compared to the frustration caused by the ultra-predictable “surprises” of the film, (He stole it! It’s a fake! They’re not dead!) which can be guessed ten, fifteen minutes in advance. Maybe worth a late-night viewing, but not much else.

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