Question: What's worse than a hyperactive action movie with big stars, that has lots of expensive special effects, but an indifferent script?
Today's release "Chill Factor" answers that question: A badly paced action movie with mid-level actors, a numbingly stupid script, and CHEAP special effects. Someone undoubtedly pitched this flick as being "Speed" meets "Broken Arrow." That person should be sued for fraud and arrested for larceny. The concepts were lifted from the other movies, but the product was NOT delivered.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Skeet Ulrich play Arlo and Mason, a couple of small town Montana losers who are thrown together to keep an embittered and disgraced ex-Army Colonel Andrew Brynner (Peter Firth) and his slick mercenary band from stealing a chemical superweapon code named Elvis.
Elvis was developed for the military by Dr. Richard Long (David Paymer) who, wounded and on the run from Brynner, tells Mason that the canister must be kept below 50 degrees, or boom. Since Arlo is the ice cream delivery guy, they take off in his truck, bad guys in hot pursuit in their black SUVs, and our heroes trying to keep Elvis on ice through several boring, cheaply made, and thoroughly ridiculous chase scenes.
To say that watching "Chill Factor" is as fun as watching ice melt, is not to merely engage in sarcastic metaphor. A good chunk of this tepid movie IS about watching ice melt.
None of the actors make much of an impression, though Firth plays in such a drowsy, deadpan monotone that it seems like he never got his coffee on this set; and Cuba Gooding Jr. is so frantic, hyper and over the top, that you wonder if perhaps he drank it all. From his recent roles, Gooding, who leapt to stardom in "Jerry McGuire," seems in desperate need of a better agent.
Besides logic defying situations, the script by Drew Gitlin and Mike Cheda careens from slapstick to drama, never achieving either. Though it tries for a "Midnight Run," or "48 Hours" style of action comedy, the biggest laughs are the unintentionally funny, clunky dialogue. And if you think that the ticking big red digital countdowns were preposterously precise in last year's "Armageddon," wait until you meet the green chemical goo that knows the difference between 49.9 and 50 degrees.
Movies like this can have cheap thrills with the right window dressing. But the hardware is boring-- the elite Army unit involved is apparently stuck with Vietnam War surplus, and as one of the bad guys, actress Hudson Leick carries the least convincing prop gun I have ever seen-- and there just isn't a cool stunt to be found in the whole mess.
Director Hugh Johnson seems to think a lot of tension can be generated by watching the temperature rise on a digital thermometer. If you pay seven bucks to see this movie, you may feel like you just had YOUR temperature taken-- the hard way.
When it comes to summer movie thrills, "Chill Factor" will leave even the least discriminating audiences cold.