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Laramie Movie Scope:
Chill Factor

A tired last gasp for summer action movies

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 6, 1999 -- Last, and least, this summer season the action movie "Chill Factor" comes limping into theaters with a weak story line featuring rip offs of stunt ideas from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Speed."

Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Junior is relegated to Hollywood's demeaning traditional black sidekick role in this by-the-numbers story about a race to get a deadly bomb to a military base before it explodes. The trick is, like the bus in speed that couldn't go less than 50 miles per hour, the temperature of the bomb can't rise above 50 degrees or it will explode. Pretty original.

Entrusted with this bomb are Tim Mason (played by Skeet Ulrich) and Arlo (Gooding). Arlo just happens to have an ice cream truck to keep the bomb cold and Mason is a friend to Dr. Richard Long (David Paymer) who developed the weapon and who gives it to him for safekeeping. After the bomb are a bunch of non-nondescript bad guys (no ethnic minorities, such as Arabs) who want to sell the weapon to the highest bidder. They are led by head bad guy Major Andrew Brynner.

Brynner (well-played by Peter Firth) is perhaps the only well-defined major character in the film. We understand his motivation and bitterness very well from the story's prologue. Unfortunately, Mason and Arlo are not so well defined. Ulrich does a fair job as an action hero and Gooding's wisecracking comic style almost saves the film, but their actions are poorly motivated and unconvincing.

The action scenes work well enough, but they aren't very inventive. We've seen all this before. To put this movie over the top there would have to have been some really great special effects and stunt work. Of course sharp dialogue and a clever script wouldn't have hurt either. As it is, this film is easily forgettable. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1999 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]