Guest Author - Karen L Hardison
Because we have “peopled and polluted our world to the brink of extinction,” a team of international scientists in Chain Reaction experiment with hydrogen separation combustion as a stable fuel source. Their research at the University of Chicago is funded by a Foundation headed by a man with connections at the State Department, in Congress and with the CIA. Hidden agendas and dual motives lead to catastrophic consequences in a race to replicate but keep the experiment a secret.
Eddie Kasalivich, the hero of Chain Reaction, is an undergraduate machinist who once blew up a laboratory and who now has the good luck of being part of the hydrogen separation, sonoluminescence experiment headed by 60-year-old Dr. Alistair Barkley. On the team is Dr. Lu Chen from mainland Chain and lovely but reticent Dr. Lily Sinclair from England. Paul Shannon is the man financially backing the experiment through his Foundation.
Shannon (Morgan Freeman) is everyone’s friend and supporter except on the day when Eddie (Keanu Reeves) provides the breakthrough that brings the greatest moment of success to the experiment. In the midst of the celebration--with dancing to Reggae music with champagne--Alistair and Paul Shannon are overheard arguing in the office about whether the data and technology should be kept secret or shared freely with world scientists. On the tails of this celebration, a strange team of visitors comes to the experiment facility and Chicago loses eight city blocks; Eddie is chased down Michigan Avenue by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI; and he and Lily (Rachel Weisz) escape gunmen and policemen across the top of a frozen lake in a 911 Rescue Team Airboat.
In Chain Reaction Keanu Reeves expresses deep emotions and builds authentic relationships with just the slightest movement of an eyebrow or the most subtle step toward another character. He and Rachel Weisz make a perfect cinematic couple. She delivers the character of the love-smitten but reluctant physicist with endearing upward glances at Eddie once their adventures begin. Morgan Freeman uses his suave charm and elegance to weave the trust that Eddie, Alistair and Lily all have in him.
Chain Reaction film director Andrew Davis has a few rocky moments that aren’t helped by the editorial team headed by Don Brochu. There are moments during which Davis reveals some fact that is important to the mystery, but then he adds an extra movement or bit player and instead of revelations we’re let with “What…? No, wait… What?!” moments of confusion that don’t clear up until toward the end of the movie. (And a couple of strange TV Star Trek moments where all the extras act a little bit like automatons….) To make matters worse, the editorial team cuts revelatory moments short so that we don’t recognize the revelation we’ve just seen.
These weaknesses do a real injustice to Chain Reaction, a movie with an intelligent script and great actors that is about an important and increasingly urgent problem, that being alternative fuel sources. Nonetheless, Chain Reaction is an exciting and interesting Action/Drama movie with great action and winning characters with whom we get deeply involved, and the DVD is well worth renting or owning. Be patient though and watch it more than once to get past the poor directing and editing choices. Rated PG-13, it’s generally a family movie except for two really ugly violent scenes for which a hand over the eyes might suffice.
PG-13 for extreme violence.
Andrew Davis – Director
Arne Schmidt and Rick Seaman – Writers
Keanu Reeves – Eddie Kaslivich
Rachel Weisz – Dr. Lilly Sinclair
Morgan Freeman – Paul Shannon
Don Brochu – Lead Film Editor