95 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Wednesday, September 1, 1999
Directed by Hugh Johnson
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Peter Firth, David Paymer & Hudson Leick
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%|
LETTERBOX: NOT NECESSARY
Maybe if "Chill Factor" were on cable in the middle of the night and every other channel had been nuked out of existance, I might watch 2 or 3 minutes before shutting the TV off. 'Nuff said.
VIDEO RELEASE: 2/1/2000
Unforgivably idiotic 'Chill Factor' features Gooding, Jr. as ice cream truck driver delivering a bomb
And the booby prize for the stupidest movie plot of 1999 goes to -- drum roll, please -- "Chill Factor," a brain-dead action flick if there ever was one. It's about a short order cook and a dairy desert delivery driver on the run from deranged ex-military terrorists who want a volatile, explosive, top secret chemical weapon hidden in the back of their ice cream truck.
Don't ask how these two (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Skeet Ulrich) came to be in possession of such a device. It's too ridiculous to waste time going in to here. All you need to know is that the crystalline compound has to stay below 50 degrees or it'll blow.
This is a joke, right?
A written-in-Crayon amalgam of "Speed," "Outbreak," and any dime-a-dozen movie in which teeth-gritting kooks hold America hostage with a weapon of mass destruction ("Broken Arrow," "Under Siege," "Con Air," take your pick), this flick is a epidemic of innumerable, insultingly obvious plot holes so prevalent that there's no point to writing about anything else in reviewing the movie.
A modest sampling from my notes:
High-tailing it away from the baddies before dawn, with a three-minute head start in Gooding's lemon of a refrigerated van, it takes the antagonists on souped-up motorcycles the better part of a morning to catch up to them.
Trying to take the most direct route to a military base where they can deliver the weapon, our heroes pick a winding dirt road up the steep side of a mountain that appears to be in the Arizona desert -- even though the movie takes place in Montana.
One baddie gets out of a van at the bottom of said mountain with rappelling equipment, then moments later rappels from a cliff at the top...
...before being knocked off the ice cream truck onto the windshield of a tailgating car, whose driver was apparently blissfully unaware of the ongoing bazooka fire around him and the paramilitary goons duking it out on top of the van he's trying to pass.
In an absurd switcheroo, Ulrich conveniently finds some unidentified blue goo in a bait shop that, coincidentally, looks enough like the chemical weapon's crystalline core (which he's never seen) to fool the bad guys on close examination.
Later Ulrich and Gooding meet the terrorists at a dam in the same geographically incorrect desert, hours from the nearest town, where, inexplicably, a carnival is taking place for the soul purpose of having civilians to threaten.
An army unit that arrives during the dam confrontation and has a clear shot at the bad guy, who, if killed, would drop the chemical canister and it would all be over. Nonetheless, the soldiers back off when he rattles the canister at them, even though the thing is still cold and therefore stable.
Um, if this stuff is so dangerous when it gets warm, why isn't the container itself refrigerated? It has all kinds of other high-tech gadgets on it, including a LED-readout thermometer, which the camera keeps cutting to (49.6...49.7...49.8...)
You get the idea.
For every three minutes of screen time, there are probably two of these moronic mistakes. Then there's the dialogue ("My God! I have become Death, destroyer of worlds!" expounds the scientist who invents the chemical in the first reel. No kidding). And the parade of colossal cliches (doofus local sheriff, military psycho with menacing whisper), and the very, very bad acting from two slipping young stars who used to have better taste in scripts and at least a modicum of talent.
Ulrich ("Touch," "The Newton Boys") now seems to dream of being little more than a poor man's Johnny Depp and Gooding ("Jerry Maguire," "As Good As It Gets") has rushed headlong into a mannerism-extreme, self-perpetuating stereotype of the non-threatening token black -- almost the modern equivalent of a Stepin Fetchit.
Understand please, that I like a good check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick as much as the next guy -- the operative word being "good." What qualifies? "Desperado," "Speed," most Jackie Chan movies. But something as criminally pathetic as "Chill Factor" doesn't even come close.