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Chain Reaction -- UMD Movie Review

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Chain Reaction is the 1996 flick from The Fugitive director Andrew Davis. The movie stars Keanu Reeves as a lowly college student that stumbles upon the key to making low-cost, pollution free energy from water. Some of the project's team members want to share the discovery with the world, providing the answer to clean, affordable electricity to every nation, while others, such as Morgan Freeman's character, feel the technology should stay in the hands of the United States. Later that night, a deadly explosion rocks the lab, killing the team members that were trying to share the technology. Reeve's character, Eddie, along with Lily Sinclair (played by Rachel Weisz) are framed for the explosion, and rather than turning themselves in, they decide to run. The rest of the movie is little more than disjointed chase sequences, broken up only by the pompous ramblings of the people that are behind the explosion.

If this movie only had Keanu Reeves in it, I wouldn't have been surprised at how bad it was. He doesn't ruin every movie he has been in, but it has been proven he can't rescue a movie with a flawed premise - like Chain Reaction. It really boggles the mind that good actors like Rachel Weisz and Morgan Freeman chose to be a part of this movie, and even more surprising that they brought absolutely nothing to the table. None of the characters are particularly likeable, nothing happens that we've not seen before, and you can see the ending coming about 30 minutes into the flick. The entire movie is a mess that's not worth your time.

Most of the movie takes place outdoors during the day, so you don't have to deal with the PSP's problems handling dark scenes very often. That said, even with the PSP plugged in, so you can get that extra brightness level, it was still tough to see the darker scenes. The film transfer is very good; there are no noticeable scratches or dirt specs, and the color also looks good. On DVD the movie is shown in a 1.85:1 aspect ration and the UMD is presented in a 1.78:1 Anamorphic transfer, so there's very little difference in the picture across formats.

The dialog sounds crisp and clear, with even the quieter scenes coming through nicely through a pair of headphones. The rest of the audio, from the sound effects to the soundtrack is average. If you habla espanol, or parle francais, there are stereo tracks in both languages. English and Spanish subtitles are included as well, but there aren't any in French.

Three trailers (Big Trouble in Little China, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and The Transporter) is all you get as far as extras are concerned. The good news is that this doesn't seem to be any less than what the DVD version of the movie got, but the DVD is only $9, which is half of what it's going for on UMD.

Final Thought(s)
If you've seen this movie and you're walking past the UMD of Chain Reaction, thinking that it might be worth a purchase, there's simply nothing I can say to stop you - you're too far gone. If you're wondering how a movie with such big-name actors could be so lousy, you're just going to have to take my word for it. A lame plot, some poor acting, uninteresting characters, and a lack of originality combine to make this a movie that is best left forgotten.

Trivia: Dustin Hoffman was originally supposed to play the role of Lyman Collier, but it was played by Brian Cox instead. Looks like Hoffman knew better than to stay on board this train wreck.

12/2/2005 Aaron Thomas

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