Chain Reaction - * *

Director Andrew Davis, best known for the Fugitive, has crafted in Chain Reaction a Fugitive-Lite. Keanu Reeves plays Eddie Kasalivich, a genius machinist working in a experimental physics lab. He discovers the key that unlocks an amazing new energy source. Yet, when that source is destroyed in a devastating explosion (along with the nearest eight blocks), Eddie finds that he and two physicists are the prime suspects. Eddie and one of the other suspects, Dr. Lily Sinclair (Rachel Wiesz), take to the road, with the FBI (led by Fred Ward) right behind. Soon, to enhance their troubles, mysterious gunmen appear, threatening Eddie and Lily with their lives. With all this, Chain Reaction plays like one chase scene after another. Director Davis draws obvious parallels to The Fugitive…but Chain Reaction can’t hold up. Keanu Reeves makes a second-rate Harrison Ford, and Fred Ward is a second-rate Tommy Lee Jones. The secondary characters suffer from unclear roles. Morgan Freeman, as the head of the mysterious committee which sponsored the energy lab, while usually strong, this time fights against his weak character. The film, possibly trying to shade his character, presents him as a mysterious figure…possibly good guy, possibly bad… but there are never any character defining moments. He just eases along with the film, as muddled at the end as at the beginning. Rachel Wiesz tags along without much to do except play damsel in distress. There are no sparks at all between her and Keanu. All that said, there are a couple of good explosions in the film, particularly the opening one. In addition, the movie has an intriguing premise. If only they went somewhere original with it…

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