Chain Reaction (1996)
The Big Bang Nearly
Do you understand the concept, Lyman... Poor Impulse Control? - Paul
Here is the irony; "Chain reaction" is a movie about scientists creating a new power source which doesn't pollute yet this is a movie which has no brains. In fact forget the whole science aspect, which you should the minute you discover that Keanu Reeves is cast as a young scientist, and just sit back for 107 minutes of action, chases and huge explosions. And when you accept that "Chain reaction" is just another movie with innocent people on the run, trying to clear their name as they are chased by the FBI as well as some shady characters and what you have is an average action thriller which trades on the action more than the thriller.
With the world becoming more and more polluted a group of scientists lead by Dr. Alistair Barkley (Nicholas Rudall) have managed to tap into the power of hydrogen. But not everyone is keen on this new technology being freely distributed to the masses and so a group of men not only kill Dr. Barkley and blow up the research unit but in doing so frame scientists Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves - A Walk in the Cloud) and Dr. Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz) for the explosion. Forced to go on the run Eddie and Lily find they not only have the FBI after them but some shady men who seem to want to capture them for some other reason. The only person then can turn to is Paul Shannon (Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption), the sponsor of the research but is Shannon the good guy they think he is?
So after an opening which briefly delivers an environmental message that the world's reliance on petroleum is killing the planet we get the science. Well we don't really we get a big tank, some bubbling water and blue lights as well as Eddie coming up with some resonance theory in order to make the creation of hydrogen power work. It's best to ignore all this and just enjoy the pretty blue lights because there is no real science here and it is just a lead in to a tried and tested storyline.
That tried and tested storyline, well it sees Eddie and fellow scientist Lily basically framed for terrorist activities with the FBI after them forcing them to go on the run to try and clear their name. And of course in tried and tested manner we can't just have the authorities after them we have to have some bad guys as well which connects with Paul Shannon who is not what he seems to be, which trust me is no spoiler. Making sense of why these bad guys want them is simple making sense of what the bad guys are actually up to well it's not so clear but it is easy to guess.
What does this all mean, well we get chases, action and explosion as Eddie and Lilly keep on the run and narrowly avoid being caught until inevitably the bad guys get one of them leaving the other to save the day. And to be honest this is where "Chain Reaction" sort of works because whilst the action isn't new it is at least semi-exciting be it a chase up an opening bridge or through a series of tunnels. It is of course slightly far fetched, we do have the science aspect to warrant that, but all the bright blue lights and steam add to the excitement even if you do have to accept how outrageous it all is. In fact towards the end the outrageousness of it all reminded me of a James Bond movie as we have are hero and woman having to escape an underground facility before it explodes whilst fighting some heavies in the process.
And that is really it and whilst we have cast which alongside Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz we have Morgan Freeman, Brian Cox and Fred Ward the less said about the acting the better. In truth it's not terrible but just ordinary and that in many ways is what is disappointing when you have Morgan freeman and Brian Cox together.
What this all boils down to is that "Chain Reaction" is what it is an action thriller with the emphasis on the action. It's not original as it boils down to an innocent couple on the run trying to prove their innocence but the various chases and explosions are entertaining.
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