The Chase

1994, PG-13, 94 min. Directed by Adam Rifkin. Starring Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, Henry Rollins, Josh Mostel, Ray Wise, Anthony Kiedis, Flea.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 11, 1994

Just once I'd like to hear the director of a big, dumb chase film like this one say, “Hey, it's a big, dumb chase film.” No one ever comes clean on matters like these. Perhaps they're embarrassed, perhaps they're too stupid to tell the difference, perhaps they think the audience is too stupid? Whichever. The Chase is exactly 100% what you think it is: 93 minutes of police cruisers trying to stop a handsome jailbird and a kidnapped heiress in a sporty BMW. That's all there is, folks, and if you can admit to an occasional fondness for high-speed, low-rent, there-goes-another-upside-down-cop-car-type shoot-'em-ups (and I do), then by gosh, this isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. Sheen is Jack Hammond, a man falsely convicted of a bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years in the pen. None too anxious to spend that much time away from his loved ones, Hammond makes a break for it and inadvertently kidnaps Natalie Voss (Swanson), the daughter of billionaire industrialist Dalton Voss. While on the run from the law in Voss's BMW, Natalie eventually falls hard for this scrappy fugitive with the 3-day stubble and puppy dog eyes (or, more probably, it's the resemblance to a young Martin Sheen that double-knots her heartstrings) and agrees to flee with him to sunny Mexico. Hot on their tails are officers Dobbs and Figus (Rollins, Mostel), a mismatched pair carrying a media payload along the lines of COPS in the back seat of their cruiser. Rollins fans will get a kick out of the Dobbs character; he's the kind of cop who's so full of himself that it's hard for him to keep his mouth shut. He yacks and prattles on to the film crew about how powerful his job makes him feel, and how much he likes fighting “the bad guys,” on and on until you feel like jamming a baker's dozen of Dunkin' Donuts down his throat to give your ears a rest. And Rollins looks like a cop to begin with, which only makes the whole thing more surreal. Sheen is Sheen, as always, but here his familial transparency serves him well. Director Rifkin (The Dark Backward) slips in a few clever cameos to amusing effect -- Anthony and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, porn star Ron Jeremy, a prop truck from his previous film, what have you -- and there's a lot of semi-clever skewering of television news media going on to boot. This is nobody's idea of excellence in cinema (there's a love scene here that's nearly as unpleasant to sit through as a triple root canal), but Rifkin's skewed world view suits this rollicking, stupid slab of celluloid just fine. It's big, it's dumb, it's fun.

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The Chase, Adam Rifkin, Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, Henry Rollins, Josh Mostel, Ray Wise, Anthony Kiedis, Flea

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