Keli (keli) wrote in capturing_skeet,
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capturing_skeet

The big Chill Factor; Action-packed summer flick warms up audience with honesty (Date: 09/01/99)

It's last call for utterly silly summer movies. And "Chill Factor" is your closing time cocktail.

This is no action classic, but it's exactly what a blow-up-things and save-the-world movie should be _ lean, self-deprecating and free of delusions of grandeur. There's no "Wild Wild West" charade here, just a fun B movie.

"Chill Factor" knows that the thought of a greasy-spoon counterman (Skeet Ulrich) and an ice cream delivery man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) keeping an Army chemical-weapons bomb from getting "in the wrong hands" is ridiculous. It's aware that the gang of designer-clad terrorists is ludicrous (what'd they do, all go to the Gap for paramilitarists together?). And it doesn't try to pretend its Army-officer-gone-bad (Colin Firth), whose career was sunk when the bomb's testing went fatally awry, is anything more than a cartoonish villain.



This sort of honest storytelling makes "Chill Factor" endearing. Even though its setup could be swifter, once it gets to the action, its personality eventually wins you over. The story really starts when the discredited officer goes after the weapon (code name: Elvis) and its creator (David Paymer). But the wounded creator gets Elvis to his greasy-spoon fishing buddy just before he dies and then it's off to the races.

In a melding of the action classics "Wages of Fear" and "Speed," the counterman and the delivery man must maneuver the latter's rundown truck over twisting Montana roads and keep Elvis under 50, or else it'll detonate. They're trying to get the bomb to an Army base before the catalog models with Uzis can steal it and sell it to the highest bidder.

Throughout, Gooding and Ulrich play out a very familiar mismatched-buddy action-comedy relationship. (Sample dialogue: "When this is all over, remind me to kick your (expletive).") It's part Butch and Sundance, part "48 Hrs.," but the duo brings a lot of spunk to standard situations, and a can-you-believe-this-stuff attitude that adds to the movie's charm.

Up to this point, first-time director Hugh Johnson had made commercials, and he occasionally gives the movie an out-of-place visual slickness. Yet "Chill Factor" is more fun than it has any right to be. Hollywood's higher-budgeted actioners could learn a lot from this.

Rated R. At Copley Place and suburban theaters. 3 stars.
From: The Boston Herald | Date: September 1, 1999 | Author: Sherman, Paul |
Tags: 1999 articles, chill factor, reviews, skeet ulrich
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