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20th Century Fox presents
Jack: So, seeing that we're gonna be traveling companions for a while, I thought we should get better acquainted. My name is Jack. And you are?
DVD ReviewWhen discussing Charlie Sheen's career, Platoon is what most people mention, but deep down in my heart I always want a buddy to pop in so we can fire up The Chase. This is one of those stupid movies that, even while watching it, I feel a mixture of shame and joy on account of my affection for it. Confined almost entirely to the interior of a red BMW, writer-director Adam Rifkin's action/comedy is loaded with energy and, surprisingly enough, some pointed jabs at the news media.
Jack Hammond (Sheen) is an escaped convict, stopping at a gas station for a Butterfinger and a fill-up. The cops enter the store and recognize his stolen car, causing Jack to panic and take a beautiful woman hostage. Kidnapping Natalie (Kristy Swanson—in the spirit of the movie, allow me to say "va-va-voom") with his trusty candy bar, Jack takes to the freeway with Natalie's Beemer. A squad of police cars are soon hot on Jack's tail, including a car featuring a Cops-style film crew that makes for many hilarious scenes (especially the director's pompous, artsy attitude). Before you know it, news helicopters are reporting their speculation on Jack's background as fact, cadavers are spilling out of medical supply trucks, and the police learn that Natalie is the daughter of California's "Donald Trump," Dalton Voss (Ray Wise).
Based on what you've read above, you can safely predict the general course of the movie. I don't hesitate to tell you that Natalie and Jack fall in love, that we learn Jack was wrongfully convicted and is not an especially violent guy, or that the two lovers (and I mean that literally—Rifkin somehow manages to make a sex scene in the car seem plausible) will escape to Mexico. The Chase is one of those movie's where the destination is not important, it's the ride that matters. The best moments come from the script's pointed attacks on reporters sensationalizing the news—creating a rather amusing scene when one network actually attempts an interview at 80mph—and the exchanges between Sheen and Swanson. Both play their roles well, not taking them too seriously but not verging into the realm of camp, either. Sheen's career is about as wild as a rollercoaster, but he feels comfortable as Jack. The polite criminal routine has been done to death in recent years, but Sheen's Jack works well for both the action and the comedy scenes.
Where the film suffers is in Rifkin's direction. The various sequences of heightened chase are too chaotic to be effective, with tight close-ups preventing the viewer from achieving any sense of geography. Nor is the camera used inventively, with about 90-percent of the shots being close-ups on the actors' faces. Hey, don't get me wrong, a close-up of Kristy Swanson with occasional cuts to reveal her cleavage is more than aesthetically pleasing, but the rest of the cast isn't quite as appealing to look at as she is. While the screenplay is razor-thin in story, it makes up for it with some pithy dialogue. The direction doesn't capitalize completely on the various action scenes, becoming bogged down by a sense of repetitiveness, but the 88-minute running time is short enough to alleviate any impending boredom.
So, if you are looking to impress someone, pick up a copy of Charlie Sheen's work in Wall Street. But if you are looking to kill 90minutes, The Chase will get you there.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: The film's 1.85:1 OAR is preserved in this anamorphic widescreen transfer, though the overall picture is grainy. There's a strong filmlike look to the whole picture and skin tones are accurate, plus the red BMW looks positively sparkly. Print defects come and go sporadically, but it's nothing terribly distracting.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Digital 4.0 mix is aided by the constant use of music on the film's soundtrack. Sound separation and directionality happen in some key action scenes, but the dynamic nature of the track is largely confined to the front sound stage. The rear-channel speakers are used almost exclusively for the movie's music. Dialogue is always audible and the sound is crisp. French and Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0 mixes are also available.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: The only supplemental material is the original theatrical trailer. Shown in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, rest assured that the picture is cropped and that the proper OAR is 1.85:1.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsSilly fun, The Chase is one of the best "dumb movies" of the past 15 years. The barebones DVD is nothing special, but it doesn't have to be.
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