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Chain Reaction
1996 - PG-13 - Mins.
Director: Andrew Davis
Producer: Andrew Davis, Arne Schmidt
Written By: J.F. Lawton, Michael Bortman
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, Kevin Dunn
Review by: John Ulmer
Keanu Reeves plays a physicist in this movie. Yep, a physicist. Whoa. And if that didn't scare or thrill you, then either will this movie, because that's probably the scariest thing about this turkey.

Reeves plays Eddie Kasalivich (say it ten times in a row real fast), a student of physics and an on-the-side machinist who likes to put his physics to work with his machines, of course. Eddie has a brand-new project that is going to blow the world away - literally. Because his experiment sets off a chain of events, or CHAIN REACTION -- ding-ding! -- that succeeds in demolishing an entire building, city, and more. But methinks that it has nothing to do with his theories nor experiments -- it all is on-screen so audiences can see things go boom.

But of course, if we as an audience wanted to see things go boom without a reasonable plot in the first place, we would just go see an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, which tend to have an amount of fun in them to satisfy anyone's cinematic action tastes. "Chain Reaction" thinks it's real smart and tries to be real smart by inserting lots of smart dialogue, in hopes that audiences will think it's a smart movie. It's not. It's more ridiculous than anything, and the long stretches of scientific mumbo-jumbo dialogue stand in the way of what we want to see -- fights, explosions, and big booms. And besides, how could the filmmakers possibly believe casting Keanu Reeves as a physicist would convince audiences it was a smart film? A slacker computer nerd who turns out to be The Chosen One, okay, yeah, I'll buy that, but a physicist? Insert guffaw here.

Eddie works for Dr. Barkley (Nicholas Rudall), who is trying to extract sources of energy, or "power" for the layman, from water. Eddie succeeds in doing this along with his co-scientist, Lily (Rachel Weisz). Lily could be a potentially real character, but Rachel Weisz would never be the woman -- the movie acts like it could be telling a true story. It's just replacing peace with chaos and dorky scientists with pretty Hollywood faces.

When they try to post their findings on the "Internet," or The Big Interactive Computer Thingy to the layman, it sets off a CHAIN REACTION that results in a mysterious man named Shannon (Morgan Freeman) trying to frame them as spies selling their findings to the Chinese. He basically tries to frame them for doing exactly what Bill Clinton did. As Homer Simpson once said: "For shame. D'oh!"

"Chain Reaction" pauses at too many scenes to cram in unintelligable scientific goobalee-glock to the audience. It comes as a surprise to see this film was directed by Andrew Davis, who scored big with "The Fugitive," a terrific, interesting, engaging and -- get this -- original film. There isn't a spark of originality here -- and if you ask me, Keanu Reeves should stick to playing slacker computer nerds instead of physicists. Just picture it: "Chain Reaction 2: Smarter and More Unoriginal Than Last Time!" Tagline: "What if the world around us was all an illusion? What if CHAIN REACTION never happened? What if Neo from 'The Matrix' is really Eddie Valinisky? What if Morgan Freeman is the designer of the Agent Smiths?" I can't handle the suspense.
Movie Guru Rating
Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable. Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable.
  1.5 out of 5 stars

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