Well, you can at least chalk one up for truth in advertising. Adam Rifkin's 1994 action-comedy The Chase is, indeed, a 75-minute car chase that gets wrapped up with one hasty and rather atrocious finale. Along the way we get stale chemistry from the two leads, and a whole bunch of rather pedantic comedy material. Save for a few very cool car crashes, a handful of amusing cameos, and just the briefest of dalliances with actual satire, there's very little here to hold one's undivided attention. But at least the thing moves pretty fast.
Charlie Sheen plays Jack Hammond, a wrongfully imprisoned escapee-on-the-run sort of guy. After butting heads with a few lucky cops while he's stopped for gas, Jack panics and reluctantly kidnaps a pretty blonde gal from the service station. Turns out the hottie is the daughter of a local billionaire, which raises the stakes even higher.
And off we go; Jack careens through back-streets and highways as he tries to avoid the police and escape to Mexico while also managing to (somehow) spark a little love affair with his buxom hostage. Meanwhile, the media is peeking in, the cops aren't giving up, and the wrecked cars keep on piling up.
Sure, it ain't high art, but must we really be subjected to "hilarity" that includes the adorable Kristy Swanson vomiting onto the windshield of a pursuing police car? I'm not saying it's too gross; I'm saying it's desperately unfunny. But wait just a few minutes more as a medical truck cracks its seal and begins spewing dead bodies all over the interstate, cadavers that are promptly crushed beneath the speeding automobiles. The pinnacle of comedic wit, lemme tell you.
And it's kind of a shame that The Chase dabbles in such puerile material, because the movies does manage to display just a little bit of brains in the way it manages to poke some subtle fun at the modern media machine. The warring reporters will try any old trick to capture this chase on film, and it's their frequent editorializing and transparent vacuousness that deliver the movie's only semblance of actual craftiness.
Still, it's a mindless b-movie affair, and to its credit The Chase does offer a half-decent package of chuckles, collisions, and cameos to keep things moving along smoothly. (Keep an eye out for Cary Elwes, Ray Wise, Marshall Bell, and two insane Chili Peppers!) Henry Rollins and Josh Mostel have a few funny moments as sensitive cops who have a camera crew in their back seat, but nothing's really done with this concept beyond the merest spark of a subplot.
Mr. Sheen maintains a likeable air of light-comedy slickness that makes one wish he'd been offered better material, but the guy does a fine job with what he's given. And while the burgeoning romantic subplot comes out of left field and never once feels believable, the two photogenic stars manage to present a fairly sexy sequence of automotive smoochage.
It's high-concept cinematic junk food all the way, but hey, who am I to disparage junk food? This one tasted a little greasy to me, but it filled an 85-minute void without giving me too much indigestion.
Video: Flipper-time. Fullframe on side A and Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic on the other. Regarding the WS transfer, well, it isn't all that hot. Picture quality ranges from grainy and full of grunge to just a little bit better than what's expected. Basically, this is the best that The Chase will ever look on DVD ... although fans might have hoped for something better.
Audio: Dolby Digital 4.0, which is crisp and clear and heavy on the gear-shifts & bass. Loud, screechy, and full of exclamations like "Wow! Did you see that?," the soundtrack kicks in fine, if unspectacular, fashion. Alternate audio options include 2.0 in either Spanish or French. Optional subtitles are available in all three languages.
Extras: Just the original theatrical trailer.
I remember seeing The Chase the night it opened with my movie-geek gang the night it opened. We all agreed it was pleasantly mindless but certainly not worthy of a full-price ticket on a perfectly good Friday evening. After seeing it a few more times over the years, my opinion's gone down just a bit; there's just enough slicks and smarts in this movie to make you wish the rest of it weren't so darn stupid.